Sharp U.S. Chamber of Commerce Attack on CPA, Corporate Political Disclosure Closes out 2014
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and allies have closed out 2014 with another round of attacks on the Center for Political Accountability and other advocates of corporate political disclosure.
Bruce Freed, CPA president, said the latest attacks actually serve to spotlight the increasing strength of the corporate political disclosure movement.
“Advocates of ‘dark money’ spending, concerned that they are losing ground, are falsely representing themselves as the voice of mainstream business, hoping to sway major companies away from their better instincts,” Freed said. “Far from wanting to return to the pre-Watergate days, American businesses increasingly are showing that they want to conduct political activity in the open sunlight, where stockholders, directors and managers all can assess the risks and benefits of a company's campaign spending.”
The attacks came at a Dec. 3 conference sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Chamber President Thomas J. Donahue and other speakers, according to BNA Bloomberg
, “voiced a message that efforts to secure greater disclosure for corporate money spent on elections and lobbying are not motivated by a concern for transparency, but a desire to silence the legitimate expression of business interests in American politics.”
“The Chamber is particularly concerned about the efforts of … the Center for Political Accountability (CPA), which tracks corporate policies on disclosure and has created a ranking system to show which of the top U.S. corporations are more or less transparent,” Bloomberg reported.
Since 2011, CPA has compiled an annual benchmarking study of corporate political disclosure and accountability with the Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The 2014 Index
showed a majority of almost 200 publicly held companies that were examined in both 2013 and 2014 received higher overall scores this year.
Chamber spokeswoman Blair Latoff Holmes labeled the survey “preposterous,” according to Bloomberg, and a tool for activists to remove business from the political and policy-making process. Speakers as the U.S. Chamber Foundation conference condemned campaign finance reform efforts such as the DISCLOSE Act in Congress, as well as shareholder resolutions for greater transparency.
“You have to view this as a war,” said Bradley A. Smith of the Center for Competitive Politics, a former FEC commissioner. “It’s [the reform movement] about trying to drive companies out.”
New FEC Chair Makes Political Transparency Signature Issue
Ann Ravel, newly elected chair of the Federal Election Commission, told the Center for Public Integrity
she will fight for campaign finance transparency and disclosure, no matter which political party is involved.
"The [Koch brothers], they are not a problem to me, nor are their activities specifically anything I want to address,” Ravel said. “Dark money is a broader problem — a much broader problem. It’s a problem for those on the Democratic side as well as the Republican side. It’s not a partisan question for me.”