The L.A. Times reported last week on a study that suggests that in this post-Citizens United world, companies are regulating their own spending in political campaigns. The study, conducted by the Center for Political Accountability and the University of Pennsylvania’s Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research, evaluated companies based on board oversight of political giving, disclosure practices and company restrictions on political spending.
The study found that “voluntary disclosure of political spending is becoming a mainstream corporate practice, and [a] growing number of companies are putting restrictions on the political use of their money.” According to its research, 57 of the S&P 100 index companies voluntarily disclose their political spending and have adopted board oversight over spending. Just under half, 43, of the companies voluntarily disclose some of their independent spending through associations and nonprofits.
One in six do not allow funds to be spent directly on candidates or political committees. It also found two companies, Colgate-Palmolive and IBM, prohibit spending entirely. Nearly one-third (30) of companies “place some Levitra prohibitions on using corporate funds for political activity.”
“Our findings are striking. They offer hope for increasing corporate political transparency and accountability at a time when everyone expects massive hidden spending to influence elections,” CPA President Bruce Freed said in a statement.
Twenty-four of the companies have explicit statements on their websites letting Super PAC committees know that they will not spend on independent expenditures. The study ranked the top-ten companies based on political transparency:
- Colgate-Palmolive Co.
- Exelon Corp.
- International Business Machines
- Merck & Co. Inc.
- Johnson & Johnson
- Pfizer Inc.
- United Parcel Service Inc.
- Dell Inc.
- Wells Fargo & Co.
- EMC Corp.
In 2003, the Center for Political Accountability started a campaign to urge corporations to voluntarily disclose political spending and exercise greater oversight in this area. “Few, if any, companies disclosed their political spending then,” the report says, going on to note that the results of this study “[reflect] significant progress. [They] also [reflect] troubling gaps that leave many shareholders, and citizens, in the dark.”