It is hard to believe that the CPA-Zicklin Index is celebrating its ten-year anniversary. The index, which is a joint collaboration between the Center for Political Accountability (CPA) and The Carol and Lawrence Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, has been benchmarking political spending at the largest companies since the Supreme Court decided the Citizens United case in 2010. Today, the CPA-Zicklin Index benchmarks the political spending practices of the S&P 500 companies.
Some key trends from this year’s CPA-Zicklin Index are:
- The number of S&P 500 companies with policies for general board oversight of political spending is 295, up 13.9 percent from 259 companies in 2020;
- Companies with board committee review of direct political contributions and expenditures increased to 217 this year, up 9 percent from 199 in 2020;
- Companies with board committee review of payments to trade associations and other tax-exempt groups increased to 196 companies this year, up 11.4 percent from 176 in 2020;
- The number of companies that fully or partially disclosed their political spending in 2021 or that prohibited at least one type of spending is 370, representing over 75 percent of the S&P 500 companies evaluated and a record high since this tracking began;
- The number of companies that fully or partially disclosed their political payments to state or local candidates or committees, or that prohibited them, was 334, another high;
- The number of companies that disclosed some or all of their political spending was 293; and
- The number of companies that prohibited direct donations to state and local candidates, political parties, and committees was 136.
The CPA-Zicklin Index also highlights some of the most-improved companies, as well as the companies that is considers “basement dwellers,” and includes some very insightful perspectives on the political spending environment today.
– Dave Lynn