Article

Spending Bill to Help SEC, Block Political Spending Disclosures

April 12, 2018

Congress’ latest budget bill provides the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) $50 million for information technology upgrades and $244 million for potentially relocating the agency’s headquarters.

Signed by President Trump on March 23, the $1.3 trillion spending bill increases the SEC’s budget to help pay for IT improvements. The upgrades address criticism the SEC has faced in recent years over its information securities practices and inability to keep up with an automated market. Criticism increased last year after the SEC’s Electronic Data Gathering And Retrieval system was hacked.

The spending bill also offers the SEC financial support for the construction of a new headquarters. Leases for the agency’s existing office in Washington, D.C., will expire in the next several years.

Additionally, the budget bill preserves blocking the SEC’s corporate political spending disclosure rule. Supporters of the disclosure rule say that it is beneficial to shareholders in understanding how businesses spend their funds, provides informed decisions regarding corporate governance, and increases transparency on political spending. In recent years, however, lawmakers have blocked such efforts by adding budget language prohibiting the rule from being finalized.

Regardless of the budget language, SEC chair Jay Clayton has yet to indicate whether efforts on a corporate political spending disclosure rule would commence. Those against the disclosure rule believe the SEC should not regulate campaign finance and that the disclosure does not help investors