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Protestors Call For End To Wellpoint’s Political Funding

A group of activists say they do not approve of Wellpoint's sponsorship of political groups and advertisements.

A Wellpoint spokesman says the company complies with all political disclosure requirements.

Photo: Plurimus (Flickr)

A Wellpoint spokesman says the company complies with all political disclosure requirements.

Activists affiliated with unions and other groups today attended the annual meeting of Indianapolis-based insurance company Wellpoint. The protestors say they’re demanding the company stop spending money on political campaigns.

Tom Swan with the group Health Care For America says many people who have insurance through Wellpoint don’t support some of the candidates and issues Wellpoint has supported through political contributions, either to candidates or to issues campaigns.

“[They are] funding extremist political organizations and candidates that we are convinced are not in the interest of policy holders, taxpayers or shareholders,” he says.

Swan says these include an ad campaign against President Obama’s health care reform law and a group that promoted voter ID laws, such as the one in Indiana.

Terre Haute attorney Jim Bopp argued the Citizens United case before the Supreme Court. He says the ruling affirmed First Amendment rights of political spending for both corporations and labor unions, but he says unions want to have the debate field all to themselves.

“Labor unions want to take advantage of this decision and be the only ones that speak out,” he says. “That‘s the reason they‘re attacking corporations, to try to shut them up. But they certainly don‘t want to shut themselves up. They just want to have a one-way conversation.”

Bopp says it is also not true that Wellpoint and other companies are failing to disclose their political spending as some unions claim, saying such disclosure is required by Indiana and federal law.

Tony Felts, a spokesman for Wellpoint, issued a written statement that says the company complies with all political disclosure requirements. He says two years ago, 82 percent of WellPoint shareholders voted against a resolution asking the company to provide more disclosure.

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