Common Cause, a Washington-based nonprofit organization, is urging Fortune 500 companies to voluntarily disclose their political contributions. Teaming up with the Center for Political Accountability, Common Cause will ask corporate giants such as General Electric to make public their political contributions and to provide a reason for those contributions, according to a press statement.

To that end, Common Cause is nudging investors, especially large mutual fund companies, which own stock in some of the biggest American companies, to support resolutions that demand greater transparency in corporate political giving. Mutual funds, which own more than 22% of corporate stocks, and which, in turn, are owned by 50% of all U.S. households, are being considered key propellers in this effort.

Traditionally, mutual fund companies have shied away from making such demands of the companies they invest in. For instance, a Common Cause survey of the 10 largest fund companies last year showed that all of them voted against or abstained from voting on shareholder resolutions pushing for improved public disclosure of corporate donations to political organizations.

"Everyone benefits, the public and shareholders, when corporations make their political contributions transparent," said Common Cause President Chellie Pingree. "It's time for mutual fund companies - which represent the investments of millions of Americans - to wake up and support this very basic disclosure."

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