By Cole Horton
(Reuters) - Five additional U.S.-based companies have agreed to disclose their political spending under agreements reached with the New York State Common Retirement Fund, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said on Thursday.
Companies including networking provider Verisign Inc and resort operator Las Vegas Sands Corp will post their political contribution policies on their websites and publish annual or semiannual reports on their donations, said DiNapoli.
The agreements since January bring to 54 the total number of companies that DiNapoli has successfully pressed for similar changes.
A Verisign representative said it was "taking steps to improve transparency around a number of issues, including that of political contributions, which aligns with the point of view expressed to us by some of our shareholders."
A Las Vegas Sands representative said "transparency is a key component" of its efforts to meet goals around environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.
Investors concerned about ESG risks have paid more attention to portfolio company donations, which can be hard to track, in recent years.
"At a minimum, investors need full transparency and accountability on the use of corporate dollars to further political agendas so we can determine whether it furthers a company's business strategy or puts it at risk," said DiNapoli, who oversees some $280 billion in state pension assets.
A record 370 S&P 500 companies in 2021 disclosed their political spending or prohibited at least one form of it, according to a study from the non-profit Center for Political Accountability.
Separately, a shareholder resolution submitted by DiNapoli's office urging Twitter Inc to disclose details about its political spending received 53% of votes at the social media company's annual meeting on May 25.
A Twitter representative declined to comment on how it would respond to the vote.
(Reporting by Cole Horton in New York; Additional reporting by Ross Kerber in Boston; Editing by Richard Chang)
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