The Committee on Corporate Political Spending of The Conference Board Governance Center held a meeting on October 20, 2016, in Washington, D.C., on the “Varied Views on Corporate Political Spending From Main Street to Wall Street and in Between,” hosted and sponsored by Altria. Attendees included two current commissioners from the Federal Election
Commission. The significance of this issue for companies was illustrated last year as Democrats in the Senate blocked confirmation of two SEC commissioners put forward by the Obama White House because they would not commit to writing rules requiring corporate political spending disclosure, while the Republican-led House included language in the recent federal budget continuing resolution that bans the SEC from writing such rules.
Following the meeting, the Center published Have we reached a tipping point? Insights and Highlights from The Committee on Corporate Political Spending Meeting.
In 2015, The Conference Board Committee on Corporate Political Spending (“the Committee”) announced that six members were recognized for their leadership in political spending governance by the 2015 CPA-Zicklin Index. To learn more about the policies and practices of the committee members, click on the member logos on this page or visit the committee member page.
The Conference Board Governance Center’s Committee on Corporate Political Spending released a comprehensive report featuring suggested policies and practices for companies engaging in political activity. Corporate Political Spending (Second Edition): Policies, Practices, Accountability, and Disclosure is available free to the public and is intended to advance the discussion of transparency in political spending.
“The report has been fully updated to account for the latest legal and market conditions,” said Judy McLevey, Assistant Director of The Conference Board Governance Center. “Drawing on Committee members’ extensive and diverse expertise, it offers a practical—and ethical—guide both for companies newly considering political involvement and those with decades of political relationships on all levels.”
The report was launched at a symposium in Washington, D.C. It includes a discussion of Crony Capitalism: Unhealthy Relations Between Business and Government, a recently published study by the Committee for Economic Development that examines the growing public perception of corruption in America through three separate trends: a rise in the size and scope of government, increased campaign costs, and the growing power of lobbying.
The Committee on Corporate Political Spending is sponsored by The Conference Board Governance Center®, whose mission is to work in the public interest to provide organizations with knowledge and thought leadership on key issues of corporate governance. For more information, please visit:
Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the media, academics, and the general public have increasingly focused their attention on the political activity of for profit and non-profit corporations as well as unions. During this same time, shareholders have also increasingly demanded greater transparency regarding corporate political activities, primarily using shareholder proposals that seek disclosure of such activities. Since 2010, more than 430 shareholder proposals on the topic of corporate political activity have been filed at Russell 3000 companies. The 2014 proxy season saw a continuation of this trend, with political spending proposals being the single most frequently submitted and voted proposal type across all subject categories, according to Proxy Voting Analytics (2010-2014).
Given such increased attention from the shareholder community and the general public, companies may want to consider adopting comprehensive policies that govern their company's political activity and also providing greater transparency into how they use corporate resources for political purposes, if they have not already done so. In the 2014 proxy season, 88.9% of the political spending proposals filed requested the disclosure of corporate political contributions and/or the company’s lobbying related activities.
The Committee believes that corporate participation in the political process can be an important, and even essential, means of enhancing shareholder value, strengthening corporate reputation and goodwill, and engaging in good corporate citizenship. The Committee assists companies that are thinking through the issue of corporate political spending and regularly convenes leading American corporations to explore the issue of using corporate treasury funds in election-related activity.
The Committee on Corporate Political Spending is pleased to provide its latest report, Corporate Political Spending: Policies and Practices, Accountability, and Disclosure (Second Edition)*.
Designed to complement The Conference Board Handbook on Corporate Political Activity: Emerging Corporate Governance Issues*, the report helps corporations deepen their understanding of issues related to their involvement in the political process and offers a variety of approaches for political spending, disclosure, and accountability. Its goals are to inform, not to instruct, and to highlight viable options and examples of what other companies have done, not to advocate a specific agenda or point of view.