State officials pressure Aetna to disclose political spending

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The New York state comptroller is pressuring Aetna to publicly disclose its political spending of direct and indirect funds.

Acting as a trustee of the state workers' retirement fund, which owns more than 1.4 million Aetna shares worth about $66 million, New York Comptroller Tom DiNapoli on Thursday filed a shareholder resolution. DiNapoli asked the insurer to reveal contributions it provides to so-called "dark money" and organizations, such as the American Action Network and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Albany Times Union reported.

"It is past time for Aetna to fully disclose its political and lobbying donations," DiNapoli said in a statement. "The company has engaged in controversial political giving that has harmed its reputation and potentially hurt shareholder value. Full disclosure of Aetna's political donations made with shareholder money is the only rational way for shareholders to assess the risks that funding partisan political donations poses to the bottom line."

The resolution asks Aetna's board of directors to require the insurer to divulge all direct and indirect payments to tax-exempt organizations, including AAN, the Chamber of Commerce, as well as other lobbying groups that contribute to political campaigns, reported the Hartford Courant.

DiNapoli filed the resolution after Aetna disclosed that it donated $7 million to AAN and the Chamber of Commerce, which the insurer categorized as educational activities.

However, Aetna spokeswoman Cynthia Michener pushed back, saying that the insurer has been recognized "for its open and transparent reporting practices" by the Center for Political Accountability. She added that Aetna's political donations disclosures meet or exceed all state and federal requirements, according to the Associated Press.

To learn more:
- here's the New York comptroller statement
- check out the Albany Times Union article
- read the Hartford Courant article
- see the Associated Press article

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