Not too long after I wrote about how nothing much happens at open Commission meetings, an interesting thing happened – the SEC Chair cited “fishy” comment letters submitted by alleged retail investors ahead of the agency’s proxy advisor rulemaking. A recent Bloomberg article broke the story by contacting the purported authors of the comment letters. Here’s the intro of the article:
When Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton handed a policy win to corporate executives this month, he pointed to a surprising source of support: a mailbag full of encouragement from ordinary Americans. To hear Clayton tell it, these folks are really focused on the intricacies of the corporate shareholder-voting process. “Some of the letters that struck me the most,” he said at a commission meeting in Washington, “came from long-term Main Street investors, including an Army veteran and a Marine veteran, a police officer, a retired teacher, a public servant, a single mom, a couple of retirees who saved for retirement.” Each bolstered Clayton’s case for limiting the power of dissenting shareholders.
But a close look at the seven letters Clayton highlighted, and about two dozen others submitted to the SEC by supposedly regular people, shows they are the product of a misleading — and laughably clumsy — public relations campaign by corporate interests.
The two Bloomberg reporters called up the folks listed as the authors of the letters – and the article details a number of responses indicating that the letters were not genuine. The submission of fake letters on rulemakings is more common than you would think but it’s not typical that an agency head is touting them publicly.
-Broc Romanek, TheCorporateCounel.net December 5, 2019
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