Presidential Seeker Edwards Championing Corporate Governance

July 7, 2003 ( - Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards has pulled the curtain back on his five-pronged approach to boost corporate accountability, which includes expensing stock options, disclosing executive compensation awards and revealing pension plan earnings.

Calling honesty and responsibility “the engine of economic growth,” the North Carolina senator, has unveiled the quintet of corporate responsibility steps he has dubbed the Worker and Shareholder Bill of Rights.   Edwards says his move comes in response to what he calls President Bush’s “crony capitalism,” a system that “appears to condone corporate misconduct through its own example,” according to a posting on the Presidential candidate’s Web site.

The five principles include:

  • Take on Insiders to Restore Trust and Honest Accounting – this is to require stock options to be expensed and to promote the better disclosure of pension costs for investors and workers.  
  • Rein in Outrageous Executive Pay – Edwards wants to eliminate tax breaks for high executive “pay for pulse,” and to require companies to fully disclose executive pay and perks.
  • Empower Owners to Hold Managers Accountable for Results – this principle includes allowing shareholders to nominate directors, full enforcement of the Edwards bill to require lawyer accountability, and for institutional investors to represent the interest of their investors.
  • Restore Pension Parity to Help Regular Workers – among the highlights of this principle is the restoration of pension parity, protection for older workers, and eliminating tax abuses for executive pensions.
  • Shut Down Corporate Tax Gimmicks – this proposal centers around closing tax loopholes and increasing penalties for using illegal tax shelters.

Edwards said his proposal would help restore integrity to corporate America and boost the economy by reviving investor confidence. “I don’t believe our values are a luxury of economic growth. I believe they are the engine of economic growth,” he said. “Books that are honest, executives who are responsible and employees who work hard for fair wages are essential to our economy.”

The Worker and Shareholder Bill of Rights can be found at