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January 4, 2013

New York fund sues Qualcomm over political spending

Major shareholder wants a peek at the books.

By CBR Staff Writer

The New York State Common Retirement Fund (Fund) has filed a suit against Qualcomm in a Delaware court seeking the right to inspect the company’s books and records to see whether shareholder’s money was being siphoned off for political purposes.

The complaint was filed by the law firm of Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann on behalf of the Fund, after Qualcomm refused the request to inspect its books relating to the use of its resources for political activities.

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said: "As a shareholder in public corporations, the Fund has a right to be properly informed about the use of corporate funds to influence the political process."

"Without disclosure, there is no way to know whether corporate funds are being used in ways that go against shareholder interests," DiNapoli said.

"The Fund has taken a leadership role in pressing the issue of disclosure of political spending since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Shareholders have a right to know how Qualcomm spends money in the political arena."

Last year, Qualcomm spent over $4.5m on lobbying efforts, according to the Fund.

DiNapoli said: "Corporate spending for political purposes should be focused solely on creating shareholder value and should be done in a completely transparent manner."

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"Qualcomm’s lack of disclosure of political spending prevents the Fund from determining if shareholder value is being furthered."

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