CHIP DESIGNER Qualcomm has been sued by New York's Comptroller for information on the firm's political donations.
Qualcomm is alleged to have refused the New York State Common Retirement Fund (NYSCRF) access to data on its political donations that were made with investors' money. New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said the fund "has a right to be properly informed about the use of corporate funds to influence the political process".
NYSCRF is one of the largest public institutional investors in the US, managing over $150bn in assets, and it is the largest public pension fund investor in Qualcomm. According to court papers, NYSCRF has a $378m stake in the chip designer.
Qualcomm seemed surprised by DiNapoli's suit and a spokesperson said in a statement, "Qualcomm is well regarded for its open and transparent culture and fully complies with all local, state and federal laws governing political activity and the disclosure of that activity - and the lawsuit does not suggest otherwise."
According to Qualcomm it was already trying to offer better access to donation information. The firm said, "As the plaintiff (NYSCRF) knows from conversations we have had in the past, Qualcomm was already in the process of enhancing our shareholders' ability to access Qualcomm's political contributions on our website. The Company [Qualcomm] believes that the lawsuit is without merit."
Qualcomm isn't the first nor will it be the last semiconductor firm to make political donations, however DiNapoli's lawsuit could mean that companies will have to offer investors more information about how corporate cash is used to support politicians' and interest groups' election campaigns. µ