October 28, 2011

Report: Corporate Disclosure of Political Spending Now Norm for Largest Companies

According to a report released this morning by the CPA-Zicklin Index of Corporate Political Disclosure and Accountability – a joint effort of the Center for Political Accountability and Wharton’s Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research – the S&P 100 are voluntarily moving to disclose their corporate expenditures on politics. This report is important in the wake of calls upon the SEC to enhance disclosure requirements in this area in the wake of the controversial Citizens United decision. Among the report’s finding are:

Disclosure & Board Oversight – 57 companies, or almost three-fifths, disclose on their websites their direct corporate political spending and have adopted board oversight, or they prohibit spending corporate cash on politics.

Limits on Political Spending – Almost one-third place some limits on how they spend corporate dollars on politics. Nearly one in four companies declines to make independent political expenditures, which Citizens United permits. Colgate-Palmolive and IBM decline to spend corporate funds on political activity completely.

Top 10 Best Disclosure Companies – Based on seven key indicators, the top 10 for political transparency and accountability: Colgate-Palmolive, Exelon, IBM, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, UPS, Dell, Wells Fargo and EMC.

Indirect Spending – 43 companies disclose some information about their indirect spending through trade associations or other tax-exempt groups, including 501(c)(4)s.

Independent Expenditures – 24 companies, or one-quarter, state on their websites that they will not make independent expenditures, as Citizens United allows.

Last month, a different Zicklin Center – the Robert Zicklin Center for Corporate Integrity – was behind this report based on “The Baruch Index,” which rates the S&P 100 companies from “transparent” to “opaque,” with a system of 57 items measuring corporate political activity at all levels and branches of government.

The Latest Anti-Corruption Developments (and Benchmarking)

In this podcast, Jeff Kaplan of Kaplan & Walker explains the latest developments in the anti-corruption area including the results of a benchmarking study conducted with the FCPA Blog, including:

– What’s new in anti-corruption enforcement?
– You’ve recently completed a benchmarking survey in this area. Why did you do it?
– What are some of the interesting findings from this survey?

Judge Rakoff Questions the Citigroup-SEC Settlement: Hearing Scheduled

As covered well by Kevin LaCroix today in his “D&O Diary Blog,” Southern District of New York Judge Jed Rakoff has scheduled a November 9th hearing at which the SEC and Citigroup are directed to be prepared to answer 9 specific questions about the settlement that they reached a few days ago. Yes, this is the same judge who refused to accept a prior settlement of the SEC”s action against BofA a few years back…

– Broc Romanek