The group has contacted members of Congress and is also lobbying through a coalition called Consumers for Paper Options, Pitts said. It includes interested parties like the Envelope Manufacturers Association and the National Association of Letter Carriers, as well as Consumer Action, a non-profit that advocates for low- and moderate-income people on financial issues.

While the industry doesn’t hide its commercial interests, it tends to highlight the pro-consumer message.

“It is a business issue, yes, but it is a humanistic issue, too,” Twin Rivers’s Winterhalter said in an interview, noting that manufacturing the paper used for mutual fund reports is a small part of the company’s business. “It is key to us to protect the elderly” and others who may have trouble accessing information online.

Successful Lobbying

The lobbying has been successful. More than a dozen lawmakers from both parties have weighed in with SEC Chair White against the provision. Among the most vocal have been Maine’s two senators, Republican Susan Collins and Angus King, an independent, and Republican Representative Bruce Poliquin, whose district includes Twin Rivers.

Usually a reliable friend of the fund industry, Poliquin has come out strongly against the rule proposal. He noted at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in May that Twin Rivers is a “thriving employer” in northern Maine, and he arranged for the chief financial officer of Blue Wolf Capital Partners, a private equity firm that owns the paper company, to testify.

Poliquin didn’t stop there. He tried to attach an amendment to a spending bill that would have de-funded the SEC’s rule. Collins got a similar measure approved by the appropriations committee in the Senate.

The effort sent mutual fund lobbyists into overdrive.

Newspaper Ad

The ICI, in a memo to members, said it conducted “numerous meetings and calls” and sent e-mails to all House members and key staff urging them to oppose Poliquin’s legislation. The association took out an advertisement in Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, displaying several tall stacks of paper, noting that the SEC rule would save shareholders about $2 billion over a decade while preserving 2 million trees each year.