Tag Archives: corporate political activity

Is Corporate Political Disclosure Leveling Off? Crunching the latest CPA-Zicklin Numbers

For years, the Center for Political Accountability’s annual CPA-Zicklin Index of corporate political practices has touted marked year-over-year increases in corporate political disclosure practices.  Look at the subtitles for its recent reports: How Leading Companies are Strengthening Their Political Spending Practices (2013), How Leading Companies are Making Political Disclosure a Mainstream Practice (2014 and 2015), … 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

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

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

Effective Today: Alabama Allows Unlimited Corporate Campaign Contributions

Effective today, corporations can now make unlimited campaign contributions directly to candidates in Alabama state and local elections.  The Alabama legislature passed this law to remove the $500 per election cap on corporate contributions in May, but, as we previously covered, there was some ambiguity regarding when the law would take effect. Other provisions of … Continue Reading

OPEN Sesame or a Potemkin Village?

Twenty House Democrats yesterday introduced proposed legislation that, if enacted in its current form, would amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to: Require corporations and labor unions which “submit[] regular, periodic reports” to their shareholders and members to include certain detailed information concerning their political spending.  That information must also be reported to the … Continue Reading

Wisconsin Assembly Votes to Permit Corporate Independent Expenditures, Double Contribution Limits

Yesterday, the Wisconsin Assembly passed a bill that would modify Wisconsin’s ban on corporate expenditures  and double the state’s political contribution limits.  In response to Citizens United, the bill lifts Wisconsin’s blanket prohibition on corporate expenditures.  If passed by the Senate and signed into law, the bill would permit corporate independent expenditures and corporate contributions … 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

Connecticut Governor’s Gift Rule Issue Highlights the Legal Minefield for Corporate Events

A brewing controversy over Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy’s trip to attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner highlights how media corporations and other firms that invite public officials to events can become embroiled in government ethics matters (h/t Eric Brown’s Political Activity Law Blog).  The Governor reportedly accepted an invitation to attend the WHCA at the … 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

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 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

Straw Contributors and Corporate Contributions

Corporations can engage in political activity.  But they must be careful how they do so; corporations still face restrictions, such as the prohibition on making contributions to federal candidates.  As we have seen, following a line of cases culminating in Citizens United, corporations may give unlimited sums to Super PACs.  They may also contribute to … Continue Reading

Posting Videos of Candidates Speaking to Your Organization Could Violate Federal Law

Most businesses are careful not to post confidential proprietary information on the public face of their website.  But is there any reason to avoid posting video clips of speeches by public figures at an annual conference that contain no proprietary information?  It turns out there is, if the public figures are candidates for federal office. … Continue Reading
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