State Treasurer Seth Magaziner today announced that the Rhode Island pension fund will be joining concerned shareholders of energy companies ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP), Exxon Mobile (NYSE: XOM), Chevron (NYSE: CVX) and Devon Energy (NYSE: DVN) in co-filing a proposal requiring the corporations to disclose their lobbying activities.
"As shareholders, we have a right to know whether energy executives are using our money to influence lawmakers," said General Treasurer Seth Magaziner. "I am particularly concerned that energy companies are using investors' dollars to block policies that will protect coastal areas like Rhode Island from the threat of climate change."
While not exhaustive, U.S. Senate records suggest that companies may spend upwards of $10 million annually to influence federal lawmakers and drive the appearance of grassroots support toward their interests. Under the terms of the proposals, each company would report their lobbying policies and procedures - including payments for grassroots communication and organizing at the national, state and local levels.
"As investors who share your commitment to confronting and addressing climate change, we believe there are additional actions you can take to improve the company's long-term financial position that are consistent with smart climate policy," Treasurer Magaziner wrote in a letter for ConocoPhillips informing them of the filing.
"A comprehensive report and improved transparency on expenditures related to lobbying and other political activity will give shareholders the confidence we need that your company is truly positioning itself for long-term growth in a carbon constrained world," Magaziner continued.
Treasurer Magaziner's letter to ConocoPhillips:
Shareholder resolution on lobbying disclosure: