Nucor shareholders reject proposal on disclosing lobbying details

(Reuters) - Nucor Corp shareholders have rejected a proposal that would make the company report on its political lobbying, heading off efforts to make one of the most high-profile corporate actors in Washington more transparent.

The largest U.S. steelmaker led the push for imposing tariffs on steel imports last year, now a signature part of U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade policy.

Trump had said tariffs were needed to save the industry from losing out to unscrupulous foreign competitors.

The 25 percent duty on steel imports has boosted domestic production and beefed up profits of Nucor, AK Steel Holding Corp and U.S. Steel Corp.

Nucor spent about $2.2 million on political lobbying in 2018, nearly 17 percent more than what it spent a year earlier, making it one of the biggest spenders among steel firms, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In comparison, U.S. Steel Corp spent about $830,000 in 2018.

Nucor said shareholder proposals to disclose more details on its lobbying and political spending were rejected at the company’s annual meeting held on May 9. One of the proposals had sought more details on the company’s direct and indirect lobbying activities and expenditures, as well as its trade association memberships and contributions.

The company had asked shareholders to vote against the proposals, saying they were unnecessary and would put the company at a “competitive disadvantage.” Nucor also said similar proposals were rejected at its last three annual meetings.

Nucor’s political spending, which includes millions of dollars in donations to political candidates, started under former Chief Executive Officer Dan DiMicco.

DiMicco is now a member of Trump’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy Negotiations, a key venue for business leaders to influence U.S. trade negotiators.

Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva