NY pension fund sues Qualcomm for political records

Thu Jan 3, 2013 5:33pm EST
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By Hilary Russ and Tom Hals

(Reuters) - New York State's $150-billion public pension fund has sued Qualcomm Inc., seeking to force the chipmaker to reveal its political spending, according to the state comptroller.

The suit was filed late on Wednesday in Delaware Court of Chancery, after Qualcomm refused the request by the New York State Common Retirement Fund -- a Qualcomm shareholder -- to inspect records detailing the use of corporate resources for political activities, said state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who oversees the fund.

"Without disclosure, there is no way to know whether corporate funds are being used in ways that go against shareholder interests," DiNapoli, a Democrat who is up for re-election in 2014, said in a statement.

The suit opens a new front in the fight over corporate political spending, which has risen dramatically since the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 ruling in Citizens United.

That decision lifted restrictions on corporate political spending and led in part to an unprecedented $6 billion of spending on the recently held U.S. elections.

While other companies have agreed to increase their disclosure of political spending, Qualcomm has not, the lawsuit said.

A spokeswoman for San Diego, California-based Qualcomm said the company had no immediate comment.

The New York State fund, the third-biggest public pension plan in the United States, owns more than 6.1 million Qualcomm shares, which are valued at about $396 million, based on Thursday's share price. The stake represents 0.36 percent of outstanding Qualcomm shares and makes the fund the company's 52nd largest shareholder, according to Thomson Reuters data.   Continued...

A general view of one of Qualcomm's numerous buildings located on its San Diego Campus February 7, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Blake