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Taking the Wraps Off Campaign Money 

In its abominable ruling in the Citizens United case last year, the US Supreme Court decreed that corporations have the same free-speech rights as actual flesh-and-blood people. Short of a constitutional amendment, there probably isn't anything we can do about that.

But at least government can try to make sure that real citizens know which candidates and causes corporate "citizens" are giving their money to. Oregon Treasury Secretary Ted Wheeler is working to make that happen.

Wheeler sent a letter last week to the US Securities and Exchange Commission asking it to make publicly traded corporations disclose their campaign contributions. Many already do it voluntarily - including 60 of the firms on Standard & Poor's Top 100 list - but a substantial number don't.

Wheeler argues convincingly that people who own stock in a company have a right to know if that company is backing candidates or causes that go against their own beliefs - or that might hurt the company's bottom line. He cites a contribution by Target Corp. last year to an anti-gay-marriage candidate that led to picketing of Target stores and calls for a national boycott.

Federal law already requires candidates to disclose campaign contributions, but as Wheeler said in his letter to the SEC, "it should not be incumbent on individual shareholders to research data in every jurisdiction across the nation" to find out who the companies they own stock in are supporting.

"This is not an argument to limit political speech," Wheeler told the SEC. "This is about openness, transparency, and ... providing accountability for shareholders."

He's right - and he's earned a GLASS SLIPPER.

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