Visa shareholders rejected a proposal Wednesday that would have required the nation's largest card network to disclose publicly more information about its lobbying activities, according to the activist shareholder group behind the measure.
The lobbying disclosure proposal received about 31% of the votes cast at Visa's annual meeting, including abstentions, says Lauren Compere, managing director of Boston Common Asset Management. That's short of the 50% threshold needed for approval.
When abstentions were excluded from the tally, the measure received about 37% of the more than 300 million votes cast, according to Compere.
A spokesperson for Visa (NYSE: V), which had urged shareholders to vote no, did not return messages seeking comment. The company's annual meeting was held Wednesday at a hotel near its headquarters in Foster City, Calif.
The disclosure proposal, which was initiated by liberal investment groups, stemmed from Visa's involvement with the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council. Known as ALEC, the group has lobbied state governments on hot-button issues such as immigration, voter identification and gun rights.
Visa has contributed at least $50,000 to the group, according to news reports. Following the release of the shareholders' proposal, a Visa spokeswoman said that the company is always evaluating its relationships with political organizations.
The proposal to require greater disclosure of Visa's lobbying efforts was submitted by Boston Common Asset Management, an investment management firm that focuses on what it calls sustainable, responsible investing, and the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.
Previous lobbying disclosure proposals at other companies have failed to get the necessary votes, but the proposal's backers say Wednesday's vote was encouraging.
"A 37% vote in favor is a strong vote for this type of resolution," Compere said in an email.