Comcast CEO Brian Roberts is safe as the chairman of the board, and the Philadelphia company, one of the nation’s biggest corporate lobbyists in Washington, doesn’t have to disclose more information about its grassroots lobbying, it said Wednesday.
Comcast held its annual shareholder meeting online Wednesday where the votes on these shareholder proposals were taken, though the exact shareholder vote tallies won’t be released until next week.
One of the activist Comcast proposals voted down on Wednesday called for an independent chairman of the board. Comcast and Roberts opposed it.
A Comcast proposal from Friends Fiduciary Corp. in Philadelphia, a Quaker group, called for the company to disclose more information on its local lobbying and membership in trade associations and nonprofit groups and was voted down, Comcast said.
“In the past we have seen significant amounts of outside shareholders vote for our proposals," Kate Monahan, shareholder engagement manager at Friends Fiduciary, said on Wednesday. "Comcast is part of a highly regulated consumer-facing industry, so when their lobbying does not align with their public statements they risk damage to their reputation, which can affect the bottom line.”
Joining with the Friends Fiduciary with the proposal were the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica in Kansas, Libra Fund QP L.P. in New York, Swift Foundation in California, Needmor Fund in Ohio, Sisters of Notre Dame De Namur in Massachusetts, Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia in Aston, and Walden Asset Management in Massachusetts.
Comcast was the 14th-largest federal lobbying spender for 2017, doling out $15.3 million, Friends Fiduciary said in its statement to shareholders, basing the ranking on the nonprofit Opensecrets.org.
Comcast also belongs to the NCTA--The Internet & Television Association, which spent $132.8 million on lobbying between 2010 and 2017.
Comcast discloses trade association payments used for political contributions, but not payments used for lobbying, the Friends Fiduciary said in the statement to shareholders, adding that “trade associations generally spend far more on lobbying than political contributions.”
Comcast shareholders approved executive compensation levels, an advisory vote that is not binding.