Shareholders demand details on Duke Energy political spending

CHARLOTTE — Duke Energy Corp. shareholders called for the company to provide a public report twice a year expanding its reporting of political contributions as well as dues and payments to trade associations and nonprofit political groups.

John White, corporate governance officer for the New York State Office of the Comptroller, presented the proposal at Duke’s annual shareholder meeting, held online Thursday.

“Duke Energy fails to comprehensively disclose its corporate political spending, and shareholders are unable to fully assess the risks and benefits associated with the company’s political activities,” he said. “The company still fails to disclose payments to all trade associations and payments to organizations referred to as social welfare organizations, that may be politically active, nor is there disclosure of trade associations’ use of the company’s money on issues related to electioneering expenditures.”

This has long been an issue raised in connection with Duke’s participation in groups like the America Legislative Exchange Council — a conservative organization known to promote legislation limiting environmental restrictions. In 2020, Duke also contributed to political “527” committees that are not required to disclose their political contributions. In 2020, it gave $500,000 to one such committee in North Carolina, according to published reports.

The issue has appeared repeatedly at Duke’s annual meetings, but has never been particularly close to adoption before. This week, shareholders approved the proposal with 52% of the shares voted at the meeting.

Read more here about what it means for the company.

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