May 29, 2013
AFT to Ask Sallie Mae Shareholders to Approve Disclosure Resolution
When/What: Thursday, May 30. Sallie Mae shareholder meeting at 11 a.m.
Rally after meeting.
Who: The AFT (with AFT President Randi Weingarten), the United States
Student Association, Jobs with Justice, SEIU, Common Cause
Where: 300 Continental Drive, Newark, DE 19713
NEWARK, DE—The American Federation of Teachers, hundreds of students and other activists will ask the shareholders of Sallie Mae, or SLM Corp., on Thursday to approve a resolution requesting that the Sallie Mae board disclose information annually about its direct, indirect and grass-roots lobbying activities and spending.
"Disclosure of Sallie Mae's lobbying expenditures is critical for shareholders to better assess the company's management of its lobbying and trade association activities, as well as related risks and opportunities.," AFT President Randi Weingarten said. "As Sallie Mae profits from billions of dollars of student loans, it has an obligation to students, educators and shareholders to be transparent about its lobbying efforts, including on student loan reform."
AFT members' pension plans have more than $1 trillion in assets and are long-term shareholders of Sallie Mae. College and university students and their families, many of whom have loans through or serviced by Sallie Mae, as well as AFT members, who include higher education faculty and staff, have a keen interest in the lobbying activities of Sallie Mae.
The proxy advisory firms ISS and Glass, Lewis & Co. both have endorsed the shareholder proposal.
Sallie Mae has 25 million student borrowers and owns $162.5 billion of student debt. It spent $6.8 million in 2010 and 2011 on direct federal lobbying activities. However, despite having at least 63 lobbyists in nine states, Sallie Mae does not disclose its lobbying expenses used to influence state legislation, its trade group memberships or payments, or its associations with tax-exempt organizations that write and endorse model legislation.
"We believe full disclosure of Sallie Mae's relationship with trade groups and other associations will create accountability to shareholders, mitigate risk and prevent company assets from being used for objectives contrary to shareholder interests," Weingarten said.
The resolution asks shareholders to request that the Sallie Mae board to disclose in an annual report:
- Company policy and procedures governing direct and indirect lobbying and grass-roots lobbying communications.
- Payments by Sallie Mae for direct or indirect lobbying or for grass-roots lobbying communications, including the amounts and the recipients.
- Sallie Mae's membership in, and payments, to, any tax-exempt organization that writes and endorses model legislation.
- Description of the decision-making process and oversight by management and the board for making any lobbying or lobbying communication payments.
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.