CPA announced two new directors, Rona Peligal and Daniel Simon. “The Center is fortunate to expand the board’s depth and breadth as it broadens its focus on the risks companies face from political spending that conflicts with their core values and positions,” president Bruce Freed said.
Peligal is the Vice President for Development and Communications at the Fund for Global Human Rights. Prior to joining the Fund, she served as Vice President for Development at American Jewish World Service and had worked at Human Rights Watch.
Simon is the Senior Advisor on issues involving money in politics, for Voices for Progress. He has consulted with numerous organizations and elected representatives on campaign finance reform, focusing on public campaign financing and disclosure of political expenditures, and is a member of NY LEAD, a bipartisan group supporting campaign finance reform in New York State.
Starting next week, all 2017 corporate spending data will be available on TrackYourCompany.org, CPA’s comprehensive database on corporate political spending. CPA anticipates all 2018 data will be included by the end of the second quarter.
is the only database providing a broad picture of the corporate political spending of the S&P 500 companies, shining a light on hundreds of millions of dollars in previously hidden money given by companies to trade associations, 527 political committees and “social welfare” organizations, also known as 501(c)(4)s.
Newsletter subscribers will be notified next week when the 2017 data is live.
Michigan PSC Moves Against Utility Political Spending
Through an unusual route – a rate settlement – a Michigan-based public utility agreed in January to a temporary ban on corporate contributions to not-for-profit groups seeking to influence state elections, according to Crain’s Detroit Business. Here are excerpts of the Crain’s article:
“State utility regulators are taking aim at the tens of millions of dollars that Michigan energy companies have donated to not-for-profit organizations that influence state political campaigns.
“Consumers Energy Co. has agreed to a ban on donating corporate cash to ‘issue advocacy’ organizations — often called 'dark money groups.' Consumers has given more than $40 million to one such organization.
“The agreement, buried in a Michigan Public Service Commission electric rate-setting settlement issued last week
, prohibits Consumers from donating money to 501(c)(4) nonprofits and 527 political organizations that engage in issue advocacy campaign advertising that stops short of outright supporting or opposing candidates.
"’Consumers Energy agrees that it will not contribute any of its corporate treasury monies to an Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(4) entity or an Internal Revenue Code 527 entity during the period of time in which the rates established in this settlement agreement are in effect,’ the MPSC decision said.
“The prohibition is effective for the rest of 2019, expiring on Jan. 1, 2020. But the ban could remain in place through the November 2020 election because the state's utility regulators have 10 months to decide a future electricity rate-setting case.
“Between 2014 and 2017, Consumers Energy poured $43.5 million into the coffers of Citizens for Energizing Michigan's Economy, a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization run by current and former company executives, according to the company's financial disclosures with the MPSC.”
The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation has published a blog post by CPA on “Mutual Fund Voting on Corporate Political Disclosure.”
Harvard Law School Blog Features CPA’s Mutual Fund Study
The post by CPA’s Freed and Dan Carroll, CPA director of programs, chronicled recent trends and began
, “Support among the largest mutual funds for the Center for Political Accountability’s political disclosure resolution reached 53 percent in the 2018 proxy season, the highest level ever. Despite the eight-percentage point jump over 2017, the Big 3 institutional investors—Vanguard, BlackRock and Fidelity—continued to oppose shareholder requests that companies adopt transparency and accountability for their political spending with corporate funds.”
A massive election reform package championed by the new Democratic House majority, HR 1, would remove a congressionally imposed ban that has blocked the Securities and Exchange Commission from requiring publicly traded companies to disclose their political spending. A Bloomberg Law article about the measure quoted CPA.
CPA in the News
CPA’s Freed told Bloomberg Law
that “companies that haven’t adopted accountability and disclosure policies are seen as outliers today.” Nonetheless, Freed said a reporting rule is needed to make the disclosures “uniform” and “universal.” Bloomberg Law also mentioned findings of the 2018 CPA-Zicklin Index of Corporate Political Disclosure and Accountability.