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Sen. Warren urges big banks to disclose contributions to think tanks

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren

In a letter to six major banks, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) urged the financial institutions last week to voluntarily disclose their contributions to think-tank organizations.

Warren said in the letter to JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley that policymakers need access to “objective, high-quality research, data and analysis” related to the consumer and financial markets to prevent a repeat of the 2008 crisis.

“Private think tanks are extremely well-suited to provide this research and analysis, but for it to be valuable, such research and analysis must be truly independent,” Warren said.

Warren said that while the banks are free to lobby on their own behalf, the law requires that they provide information on their “direct efforts to influence policymaking…with disclosures about your lobbying expenditures.”

“Under current law, however, your institutions are permitted to make financial contributions to think tanks without any similar public disclosure,” Warren said. “This means that you can make enormous contributions that threaten both the independence and public credibility of the work of think tanks out of the public view.”

Warren encouraged the banks to voluntarily disclose their contributions to think-tank organizations, saying greater transparency is beneficial to the public, policymakers and shareholders.

“When you use corporate resources to support think tanks, there are only two possible outcomes from public disclosure—those contributions do not influence the work of the think tanks or those contributions do influence the think tanks’ research and conclusions,” Warren said. “Either way, shareholders have a right to know how corporate resources are spent, and, even more importantly, policymakers and the public should be aware of your contributions and evaluate the work of the think tanks accordingly.”

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