Sunday, May 14, 2006

Full Disclosure for Katie and the Congress

Under pressure from the Hill, the Securities and Exchange Commission is pushing the adoption of the so-called "Katie Couric" clause. The SEC wants publicly traded companies to give shareholders more information about multimillion-dollar salaries of their executives and employees. The name comes from the "Today Show” co-host, who is leaving NBC at the end of May to join CBS as anchor and managing editor of the to be retitled "CBS Evening News With Katie Couric. " It’s been widely reported that Couric is to receive $15 million over five years.

The SEC proposal – primarily aimed at requiring the disclosure of more information on the pay of top corporate officers -- also would force companies to disclose salary figures for up to three workers whose compensation exceeds that of its top executives.

A number of the Fortune 100, including DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. and News Corp., are protesting the SEC plan. They claim that the salary structure for millionaire talent is too complex and irrelevant to shareholders. Some fear that the new rule might scare away high-ticket individuals, who prefer to share their personal finances only with their accountants.

The SEC is working away hoping to unveil a final version of its overall executive compensation disclosure rules by early September. The regs would take effect in early 2007.

As the SEC moves forward with its plan to increase exposure of corporate financial information, it occurs to us that the time is clearly far overdue for the disclosure spot light to be pointed at the lords and rulers of Capitol Hill. If there is an investor-citizen right to know the finances of America’s corporate titans, why is there not a similar right for all voters to know the complete details of the finances of Members of Congress, as well for that matter those of would-be legislators running for office? The comprehensive reports should be filed quarterly, if not monthly. In this way, the voters can come to understand just how members of Congress – as many do - can come to Washington with little to speak of in terms of personal financial assets, and then leave the town as multimillionaires, not to mention a golden rretirement plan that guarantees them their salary for life. It's Golden Security not Social Security for our Congress persons.

After all, our elected representatives are the ones who have gerrymandered Congressional Districts to the point where the electorate largely is offered only a single choice --the mediocre incumbent.

And clearly, no congressperson is buried in paupers' field!

It’s time that voters know the full financial facts of the people they continue to elect to office!


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7:58 PM  

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