Federal Politics

Published — July 25, 2013 Updated — May 13, 2014 at 4:58 pm ET

More corporations revealing ‘dark money’ donations

Study shines light on S&P 500 political giving

Introduction

America’s largest corporations, while still overwhelmingly opaque about their politicking, are more transparent than ever before, according to a yet-to-be-published analysis of S&P 500 companies’ disclosure habits.

About 12 percent of S&P 500 companies now voluntarily disclose at least some of the so-called “dark money” contributions they make to 501(c)(4) “social welfare” nonprofit groups, which are not required to reveal their donors. Such groups frequently lobby the federal government and have together spent tens of millions of dollars advocating for and against political candidates since the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

Another 6.4 percent of S&P 500 companies have voluntarily disclosed that they don’t contribute to 501(c)(4) nonprofits at all, according to the first-of-its-kind study, which the nonpartisan Center for Political Accountability is producing.

An even greater share of corporations — more than one-fourth — report at least some payments they make to nonprofit trade associations. Trade groups sometimes engage in political advocacy or electioneering activities and also aren’t legally compelled to disclose their donors.

The study shows a slow shift toward transparency, said Bruce Freed, the Center for Political Accountability’s president.

Shareholder pressure, changes in corporate governance standards and publicity from the Center for Political Accountability’s more detailed and annual corporate transparency index of S&P 200 companies contribute to this shift, said Freed, whose Washington, D.C.-based organization works to promote “responsible corporate political activity, protect shareholders and strengthen the integrity of the political process.”

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Sometimes, companies need little prompting, while others begin reporting on their own.

Utility company Edison International, health firm St. Jude Medical Inc., mining outfit Joy Global Inc. and New York Stock Exchange parent NYSE Euronext Inc. are among those who’ve recently revealed at least some of their 501(c)(4) donations without the Center’s prior knowledge, said Sol Kwon, who conducted much of the S&P 500 study’s research.

Companies who aren’t yet on board?

“They’re like King Canute, telling the tide not to come in,” Freed said. “Corporate political disclosure is really becoming a more mainstream practice, in whole or at least in part.”

Added Kwon: “These numbers tell a story of greater disclosure than I expected. There’s the creation of a virtuous cycle.”

The S&P 500 study will also note that of the companies the Center for Political Accountability investigated:

  • About four in five publicly release at least some of their internal policies governing corporate spending. About one third provide detailed information about their policies.
  • More than one in three publicize information about how their corporate boards provide oversight of political spending.
  • About 23 percent release information about their contribution to state-level ballot measure campaigns, while another 6.4 percent disclosed that they make no such donations.

The Center for Public Accountability’s full study is slated for release later this month, Freed said.

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SOUTH JERSEYTed SiroisMark SullivanTom LarkinAnonymous Recent comment authors
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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

jan v
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jan v

all the lobbyists are running all our government agencies and all the career civil servants who know how to run the country have been fired. YOU think this is a good thing ? what a crock…

thomas alessi
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thomas alessi

I am for Trump

Martin Shellabarger
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J. Stevenson, what are you drinking? Trump has more lobbyists in his administration than probably any other president. Trump is totally “for sale”, and the corporations know it. Grow a brain!

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT

David
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David

Are you on some kind of drugs? Writing in caps makes me think that you are grumpy old fart or a uneducated hillbilly.