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How Companies Influence Elections - Political Campaign Spending Patterns and Oversight at America’s Largest Companies

84 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2010 Last revised: 5 Nov 2010

Heidi Welsh

Sustainable Investments Institute (Si2)

Robin Young

Sustainable Investments Institute (Si2)

Date Written: October 14, 2010

Abstract

Investor activists have waged a campaign to increase corporate political spending disclosure and board oversight since 2004, through shareholder resolutions filed for consideration at corporate annual meetings. In 2010, average support for these resolutions reached 30 percent - an unusually high level for dissident proposals. This report examines corporate political spending governance practices at S&P 500 companies, exploring the extent to which they conform to suggested best practices outlined in a handbook released in November 2010 by the Conference Board and the Center for Political Accountability, a Washington, DC-based based advocacy group that has led the disclosure campaign. The study finds that board oversight and voluntary spending disclosure to investors remains limited. Further, companies rarely reveal policies and practices relating to "independent expenditures" from the corporate treasury, an avenue for political spending that was expanded substantially by the Citizens United decision.

Keywords: Political Contributions, Campaign Finance, Citizens United

JEL Classification: G3, G38, K2, K22, D72, G32, G38

Suggested Citation

Welsh, Heidi and Young, Robin, How Companies Influence Elections - Political Campaign Spending Patterns and Oversight at America’s Largest Companies (October 14, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1692739 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1692739

Heidi Welsh (Contact Author)

Sustainable Investments Institute (Si2) ( email )

21122 Park Hall Road
Boonsboro, MD 21713
United States
301-432-4721 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.siinstitute.org

Robin Young

Sustainable Investments Institute (Si2) ( email )

21122 Park Hall Road
Boonsboro, MD 21713
United States

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