Acton Institute Powerblog

Corporate Political Spending Report a Tool for Business Bullies

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The 2013 “CPA-Zicklin Index of Corporate Policy Accountability and Disclosure” was issued Tuesday by the allegedly “nonpartisan” Center for Corporate Political Accountability – the “CPA” of the report’s title lest readers mistakenly read it as the objective analysis of a certified public accountant. The CPA referenced here is the organization operated by Bruce Freed, which shepherds proxy shareholder resolutions by left leaning “religious” shareholder activist groups as As You Sow and the Interfaith Council on Corporate Responsibility.

I haven’t taken the time for a deep-dive analysis of the report, but will do so most assuredly in the next few days. However, an initial reading of the Index’s Executive Summary must suffice for the moment. In short … poppycock. And piffle. Even preposterous.

Allow me to set the record straight. Ten years ago, CPA “began engaging corporations to voluntarily provide disclosure and oversight of political spending,” asserts Mr. Freed – if by “voluntarily” Mr. Freed means mounting a campaign of deceit against corporate political spending employing all means necessary to embarrass or otherwise shame companies to bend to the will of leftist, post-Citizens United, “corporations/bad. unions/good” ideology.

Mr. Freed and the faith-based shareholders for whom he writes proxy resolutions remain in a tizzy regarding those companies that spend lobbying or other political cash on causes and campaigns with which the left disapproves. In an environment of growing Leviathan and concomitant increase in regulatory restrictions emanating from government agencies, companies have little choice to ensure their own and employees’ survival as well as the profitability of shareholders than to engage in the political process. Indeed, to voluntarily withdraw from these policy debates would be nothing less than reckless disregard for political reality today.

So let’s break this down further: Unions spend members’ dues on political causes that tilt left whereas corporations spend company proceeds on causes that tilt right. Union spending rarely is called into question as it’s a given they’ll spend it on liberal candidates and agendas. Woe be unto those corporations, however, which endeavor to engage politically – even  privately – in the interest of their companies, employees, customers and shareholders.

Take, for example, Target Corp., the national retailer that donated $150,000 to MIN Forward, which used the funds for television ads touting the economic policies of 2010 Republican gubernatorial candidate and Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmers. Because Emmers is an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage, Target was … well … targeted by the gay advocacy group OutFront Minnesota. The company capitulated, prompting The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto to note: “Merely by taking offense, scrappy little OutFront Minnesota was able to humiliate the leaders of a company with a market capitalization of $38 billion. Who has the real economic power here?”

Leaving aside the social issues of the Minnesota example, the real economic interests of Target were subjugated by the bullying of OutFront. This, dear readers, is the fetid political swamp that nuns, priests, clergy and other religious are wading into when they sponsor Mr. Freed’s proxy resolutions to circumvent Citizens United and corporate political speech. Where is the accountability and disclosure for these actions?

 

 

 

Bruce Edward Walker Bruce Edward Walker has more than 20 years’ writing and editing experience in a variety of publishing areas, including reference books, newspapers, magazines, media relations and corporate speeches. Much of this material involved research on water rights, land use, alternative-technology vehicles and other environmental issues, but Walker has also written extensively on nonscientific subjects, having produced six titles in Wiley Publishing’s CliffsNotes series, including study guides for "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest." Most recently, he was manager of communications for the Mackinac Center's Property Rights Network. Prior to assuming that role, he served from 2006-2007 as editor of Michigan Science, a quarterly Mackinac Center publication. Walker has served as an adjunct professor of literature and academic writing at University of Detroit Mercy. He is also a member of the marketing advisory committee of Tomorrow’s Child, a Lansing, Mich.-based research and education organization dealing with infant mortality issues. Walker holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Michigan State University. He is the father of two daughters and currently lives in Midland, Mich.

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