New Committee to Study Corporate Political Spending

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New Committee to Study Corporate Political Spending

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.@conferenceboard has formed a committee on corproate political spending. Learn more and participate: http://3bl.me/wst5mx #corpgov #csr

Summary

The Conference Board has formed a committee  committee of Fortune 500 companies to advance issues related to disclosure and accountability of corporate political spending.

Learn more by visiting the committee's webpage: http://www.conferenceboard.org/politicalspending

Press Release
Thursday, June 30, 2011 - 12:00am
(3BL Media / the CSRfeed) The Conference Board announced today that it has formed a committee of Fortune 500 companies to advance issues related to disclosure and accountability of corporate political spending. Comprised of leading governance and corporate citizenship executives, the Committee on Corporate Political Spending will release a report this fall that will provide corporations with a toolkit of resources to strengthen their governance practices in the area of disclosure and accountability.
 
The current member companies of the Committee on Corporate Political Spending include Campbell Soup Company, Exelon Corporation, Merck & Co., Inc., Microsoft Corporation, Pfizer Inc., and Prudential Financial Inc. The Committee is co-chaired by Dan Bross, Senior Director, Corporate Citizenship, Microsoft Corporation and Charles Grezlak, Vice President of State Government Affairs, Merck & Co., Inc. Outside experts in the field of corporate governance, corporate political spending, and election law will serve as advisory members.
 
The need for a model framework for disclosure and accountability of corporate political spending has increased since January 2010, when the U.S. Supreme Court, in the landmark Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, limited restrictions on corporate-funded political spending in federal elections. The Court’s decision allowed companies to make independent expenditures, directly or through third parties, in support of or in opposition to candidates.
 
In its wake, legislators at the federal and state level have proposed new laws requiring disclosure and, in some cases, shareholder approval of a company’s political spending. Since the 2004 proxy season, some investors have filed shareholder resolutions to the same effect. As of May 2011, 85 large public companies, including 51 in the S&P 100, have voluntarily adopted disclosure of political spending with corporate funds. Last November, The Conference Board released the first-ever Handbook on Corporate Political Activity to provide companies with guidance on managing and overseeing their political spending with corporate funds.
 
In bringing together the experience and current practices of its members, the Committee on Corporate Political Spending intends to develop a set of “prevailing practices” that take into consideration the risks and opportunities of political-spending decisions — from whether to spend at all to deciding the level of disclosure — rather than a seriesof universal guidelines.
 
“We look forward to advancing the dialogue across the corporate community on issues concerning the transparency and accountability of corporate political spending — a deliberative process that should benefit all companies in addressing the needs of their stakeholders,” said Merck’s Charles Grezlak.
 
“Participation in the political process is a right enjoyed by corporations,” added Microsoft’s Dan Bross. “The question is not the right to participate but the responsibilities associated with that right.  This Committee is committed to advancing a thoughtful dialogue and demonstrating, through best practice sharing, the opportunities corporations have to enhance their commitment to corporate governance while fulfilling their responsibilities for protecting shareholder value.”
 
In addition to a report, the Committee on Corporate Political Spending will share its findings in webcasts, conferences, and a planned Symposium on Political Spending this fall. A regularly updated website, http://www.conferenceboard.org/politicalspending will allow those interested in political spending to access resources on the topic, follow the progress of the Committee, and view upcoming related events from The Conference Board.
 
The members of the committee include:
  • Dave Stangis, Vice President, CSR/Sustainability, Campbell Soup Company
  • Bruce Wilson, Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Exelon Corporation
  • Charles Grezlak, Vice President, State Government Affairs & Policy, Merck
  • Dan Bross, Senior Director, Corporate Citizenship, Microsoft Corporation
  • Matthew Lepore, Vice President and Corporate Secretary, Chief Counsel — Corporate Governance, Pfizer Inc.
  • Margaret Foran, Chief Governance Officer and Corporate Secretary, Prudential Financial Inc.
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About The Conference Board
The Conference Board is a global, independent business membership and research association working in the public interest. Our mission is unique: To provide the world’s leading organizations with the practical knowledge they need to improve their performance and better serve society. The Conference Board is a non-advocacy, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States.
 
For further information contact:
 
Carol Courter
1 212 339 0232
carol.courter@conference-board.org
 
Jonathan Liu
1 212 339 0257
Jonathan.liu@conference-board.org