Corporate Political Disclosure


Over the past few years a movement among shareholders and activist groups has formed to push companies to publicly reveal their political contributions. While corporations are banned from giving directly to candidates for federal office some states have not banned direct corporate contributions and other groups, like nonprofits, 527s, trade associations, and other political groups, also receive corporate money. The Financial Times reports that five companies are jumping on this transparency bandwagon:

Five large US companies, including American Express and Xerox, will bow to shareholder pressure on Thursday and agree to disclose all their political spending.

The move by the companies, which also include the financial groups Washington Mutual and Capital One and the technology provider Texas Instruments, could put pressure on the rest of corporate America to make public its political contributions. US companies are not required to disclose details of political payments and, in spite of growing concerns over lobbying by large businesses, only 38 have so far agreed to reveal all their political spending.

Scott Gaspard at Washington Mutual said: “Good corporate governance dictates transparency, which is why we decided to make our political contributions available.”

Transparency in the realm of political influence is spreading. The Center for Political Accountability has more info and a list of companies that are publicizing their political donations.