In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

June 2010 Archives

Campaign 'Disclose Act' Would Put New Limits on Corporations

House Democrats passed a bill today called the "Disclose Act," designed to increase transparency for corporations and other interest groups who make contributions to political campaigns. The bill passed 219 to 206 with only two Republicans voting in favor of the measure. The name comes from a very Washingtonian acronym, "Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act." However, not all organizations are subject to the new law, including the NRA and AARP.

The Disclose Act was passed in part because of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled that limits on political spending by corporations were unconstitutional as a violation of freedom of speech. Under the Disclose Act, the heads of the corporations, companies, unions, or nonprofit organizations are required to appear in person in any advertisements that the organization sponsors and say that they personally endorse the message. As ABC News reports, it would also require them to reveal the names of the top five donors who helped foot the advertising bill.

Supreme Court Says President Can Fire PCAOB

Yesterday, June 28, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision in Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. As is frequently the case, the Justices issued a narrow ruling. In fact, the 5-4 was actually affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

The case involved the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, the board appointed as part of the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which was passed after the accounting scandals of the early 2000s. The opinion was written by Chief Justice Roberts. Justice Breyer dissented, joined by Justices Stevens, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor. The Justices ruled that it was unconstitutional for the President to be unable to fire the members of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, but the Court otherwise left intact the board and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board was designed to oversee accounting firms after the disaster and fallout from Enron and WorldCom's accounting scandals. The Court found that because the board is overseen by the SEC (whose members can only be removed for cause), the Sarbanes-Oxley Act interfered with Presidential authority.

Make A Difference: TrustLaw

TrustLaw. Would some find that name an oxymoron? Thomson Reuters is working to make attitudes like that a thing of the past. Thomson Reuters TrustLaw is a free global pro bono service designed to connect organizations with limited means to free legal services. For attorneys, this is a place where those who want to make an impact, can. Many in-house corporate legal departments are in a strong position to reach out and help, and many have.

How does TrustLaw work? NGO's or entrepreneurs connect with TrustLaw to get help with their legal needs. TrustLaw believes that it is just this type client who as the power to effect change, but is often stymied for lack of legal assistance. When these clients come to TrustLaw for assistance, the staff will help them define their legal need as a "viable pro bono request." Those requests are then matched with the attorneys equipped to best help them. Before, during and after a project, feedback is collected from both contributors to make sure a good and useful connection was made.