Stop the Attack on Corporate Accountability: Call your Senator Today
By Adotei Akwei and Jennie Green
It’s a sad day for corporate accountability, transparency and human rights.
But you can still take action!
On Wednesday the House of Representatives passed legislation to gut one of the signature bi-partisan anti-corruption and transparency laws passed in the last eight years. The Cardin-Lugar rule, also known as “Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act,” requires oil and mining companies to publish the payments they make to governments around the world.
The Senate may vote on similar legislation as early as today.
The Dodd Frank transparency measure was passed to ensure people in low and lower income countries can follow the money, and to break the “resource curse”, which has plagued countries such as Indonesia, Nigeria, Angola, and Equatorial Guinea. It’s one of the most important anti-corruption/anti-poverty laws that Congress has passed in recent years, and was a bipartisan effort spearheaded by Republican Senator Richard Lugar and Democratic Senator Ben Cardin. Senators Lugar and Cardin have urged Senators to keep this legislation and noted the important leadership it provided. Dodd-Frank inspired similar legislation around the world, and now 80 percent of the world’s largest oil, gas and mining firms are covered.
The less the public knows about human rights abuses, the easier it is for governments and corporations to commit them, or supply the money to those who do. Those most opposed to Cardin-Lugar are autocrats seeking to hide information from their citizens. Do we really want to act on their behalf?
The timing to limit Section 1504 raises many questions. It comes the same week that Rex Tillerson, former CEO of Exxon Mobil and a vocal opponent of this anti-corruption rule, has been confirmed by the Senate as the next Secretary of State. Unlike many other businesses which have supported this transparency rule, Exxon has spent millions, along with the American Petroleum Institute, to try to block this rule. Tillerson has personally lobbied on Capitol Hill and elsewhere to stop it. Exxon is also a defendant in a case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia charging the company with complicity in human rights violations by security forces in Indonesia.
Transparency, accountability and the rule of law are essential to the protection of human rights. With Dodd-Frank, the U.S. led the way in promoting those principles internationally. Now Congress is seeking to undermine them.
Don’t let Congress make it easier for companies to finance governments that commit human rights abuses. Let’s make sure that the United States is a positive force for human rights and accountability.
Call your Senator TODAY and urge them to oppose this measure. Follow the link below and tell them that a vote to overturn Sec.1504 of Dodd Frank is a vote in favor of corruption and against human rights.