84 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2010 Last revised: 5 Nov 2010
Date Written: October 14, 2010
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: 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