Archives: Corporate Political Spending Disclosure

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Corporate Political Disclosure Fight Shifts to Mutual Funds

Corporate political disclosure activists this week launched a new tactic in their fight to pressure companies to publicly disclose information about their political and lobbying activities. For more than a decade, public pension funds and others have aggressively pushed shareholder resolutions that call on public companies to self-disclose information about contributions to trade associations and … Continue Reading

New Report Calls Out Corporate Political Disclosure “Basement Dwellers”

A report published today criticizes companies that refuse to disclose information about their political spending on their websites.  The non-profit Center for Political Accountability and the Zicklin School at Wharton annually rank all companies in the S&P 500 on their political disclosure practices, based on a 70-point metric.  The more information companies disclose on their … Continue Reading

Congressional Spending Bill Shuts Down Key Goals of Campaign Finance Reform Community

A major spending bill posted late last night by Congressional leaders contains provisions shooting down two key initiatives of the campaign finance reform community.  Stymied by a Federal Election Commission that has increasingly struggled to find consensus, campaign finance activists in recent years have turned their attention to other federal regulators, pressing those regulators to … Continue Reading

New Report Adds Pressure For Public Companies to Voluntarily Disclose Political Spending

A report published today by the Center for Political Accountability will result in more pressure on public companies to voluntarily disclose information about their political spending. Each year, CPA in collaboration with the Zicklin Center at the University of Pennsylvania issues a detailed report “scoring” companies on their corporate political disclosure practices according to a … Continue Reading

CPA-Zicklin Index for 2015 Expected To Rank Entire S&P 500

Covington has recently learned that, for the first time ever, the CPA-Zicklin Index, which ranks companies’ political disclosure practices, plans to issue rankings for all 500 companies in the S&P 500 Index.  This is a significant expansion of the Index, which will impact many public companies that have not previously been subject to intense scrutiny … Continue Reading

Covington Releases How-To Guide For Responding To Corporate Political Disclosure Initiatives

Covington today released a client advisory providing best practices to assist in-house counsel of publicly-traded companies in responding to corporate political disclosure initiatives.  These initiatives aim to force companies to post to their websites more information regarding corporate political activities, such as details regarding corporate contributions to trade associations and 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations.  Despite … Continue Reading

In Chevron Case, FEC Brings Clarity to the Federal Contractor Ban and Super PACs

The rules on corporate contributions to Super PACs were made clearer today when the Federal Election Commission (FEC) released its finding that Chevron Corporation’s $2.5 million contribution in 2012 to the Congressional Leadership Fund (a Super PAC) had not violated the bar on government contractors making contributions in federal elections. Public Citizen and several environmental … Continue Reading

Both Sides of the Political Disclosure Divide Likely to Latch onto McCutcheon Decision

Despite the heated rhetoric surrounding today’s McCutcheon decision, it should be remembered that the aggregate contribution limits the Court struck down today have played only a minor role in recent controversies surrounding campaign finance regulation.  In recent years, debates surrounding the disclosure of political spending have instead taken center stage.  Groups like the Center for … Continue Reading

Activist Investors Announce Submission of Political Spending Shareholder Proposals to 48 Companies

A coalition of 60 investors, led by the AFSCME Employees Pension Plan and Walden Asset Management, recently announced that they have submitted shareholder proposals seeking additional disclosures regarding political spending and lobbying activities. This announcement reflects a continuing desire among these groups to obtain additional disclosures from public companies regarding lobbying and political spending, and … Continue Reading

Shareholders Try New Tactic in Corporate Political Disclosure Fight

This year has not been a great one for activists seeking to force corporations to increase disclosure of their political activities.  According to the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Legal Policy, average shareholder support for proposals related to political spending or lobbying declined again this year, from 22 percent to 20 percent for lobbying proposals and … Continue Reading

The More Things Change: The FEC and Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A.

On Thursday, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) was unable to agree on whether Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. could sponsor a Separate Segregated Fund (a corporate “SSF” or “PAC” in common parlance) that solicited contributions from the employees of its dealers and service centers.  The request resulted in an unsurprising deadlock and a surprising discussion about … Continue Reading

SEC Takes a Pass on Corporate Political Disclosure, But Other Fronts Remain

If there was an award for “political law issue of the year,” corporate political disclosure would be a front-runner.  About a year ago, the Securities & Exchange Commission (“SEC”) asked the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (“OIRA”)—housed within the Office of Management and Budget as part of the Executive Office of the President—to add … Continue Reading

Chevron Shareholder Resolution Attempting to Bar Corporate Political Activity Resoundingly Defeated

Earlier this week, activist investors attempted to push through a shareholder resolution barring Chevron from using corporate funds for political activities.  The resolution called for the board of directors to “adopt a policy to refrain from using corporate funds to influence any political election.”  If passed, it would have prohibited not only direct contributions, but … Continue Reading

New Alabama Law Allows Unlimited Corporate Campaign Contributions

New changes to Alabama law will allow corporations, like individuals, to make unlimited campaign contributions in Alabama state and local elections.  Last Friday, Governor Robert Bentley signed the law which removes the $500 per election cap on corporate contributions.  (The Alabama Attorney General’s Office interpreted the $500 per election cap to mean corporate contributions to … Continue Reading

Update on Corporate Political Activity Disclosure

A hot topic we’ve been tracking closely this year concerns the regulatory and legal battles over corporate political activity disclosure.  This past week has been notable in two respects. As we’ve previously reported here, in December 2012 the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) identified potential rulemakings that it might undertake in 2013.  Among the items … Continue Reading

Skeptical GAO Report Considers Potential “Political Intelligence” Disclosure Requirements

A Wall Street Journal article says that a report published today by the Government Accountability Office “urges” the creation of a new disclosure regime for political intelligence firms.  That’s not how we read the report. As background, when the Senate passed the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (the “STOCK Act”) 96-3 last year, the … Continue Reading

Covington Issues Client Advisory Concerning Senate PSI Campaign Finance Investigation

Today we issued a detailed advisory to clients about the anticipated campaign finance investigation by the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.  Senator Levin, who chairs the Subcommittee, recently announced his intention to lead an investigation of “secret money” in US elections.  We are following this very closely for clients, including corporations, trade associations, advocacy groups, … Continue Reading

Utah Corporate Disclosure Bill Signed Into Law

This year’s march of state government campaign finance reforms continues, with the Governor of Utah signing H.B. 43 into law earlier this week. Utah already requires corporations—including nonprofits—to report how much they spend on political expenditures once they reach a $750 threshold for a calendar year.  But the newly enacted law requires these corporations to … Continue Reading

Paying to Play in the Name of Another (Allegedly)

Recently, we noted a pay-to-play scandal in Pennsylvania that resulted in multiple arrests.  This week, New Jersey’s Attorney General charged seven executives or shareholders of Birdsall Services Group, an engineering firm.  The alleged Birdsall scheme illustrates the ease with which pay-to-play violations and campaign finance violations can mix. Pay-to-play laws typically restrict or prohibit public … Continue Reading

Conference Call on Corporate Political Spending Disclosure

Many public companies are busy fending off shareholder demands (in one form or another) that they disclose political and lobbying expenditures.  Covington’s Election and Political Law Practice Group and its Securities Law Practice Group are holding a conference call this Thursday, March 21, 2013, at 12:30 p.m. Eastern, to discuss recent developments, and strategies companies … Continue Reading

Shareholder Proposals on Corporate Political Spending are Common, but not Popular

Political spending proposals were among the most common shareholder proposal topics in 2012, with more than 90 political spending proposals being submitted to S&P 500 companies (only 56 were voted upon). Despite the significant number of such proposals submitted in 2012, political spending proposals did not fare well with shareholders, garnering only 26% support from … Continue Reading

Shareholder Demands for Corporate Political Disclosure

The Conference Board has issued an interesting report on “Corporate Political Spending.”  The report addresses an increasingly high-profile issue for politically active public companies: demands from shareholders and interest groups that corporations publicly disclose all of their political and lobbying activities.  Much disclosure is already required, of course, by federal, state and local campaign finance … Continue Reading

SEC Staff Takes the Position that Political Spending Proposals Are Substantially Identical to Lobbying Proposals

One issue that confronted many public companies this year was how to respond when they received multiple shareholder proposals relating to political contributions and lobbying matters. One approach that some companies have turned to relies on Rule 14a-8(i)(11) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which allows a company to exclude from its proxy materials … Continue Reading

SEC Rulemaking on Corporate Political Spending Disclosure

As has been widely reported, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) recently made some rumblings about undertaking a rulemaking requiring corporations to disclose their funding and participation in political activities to shareholders.  The move has been heralded by corporate governance reform groups and decried by some from the business sector.  But what exactly does this … Continue Reading
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