For Immediate Release March 24, 2009
Washington DC - As the 2009 proxy season formally opens, the pace of political disclosure is accelerating as seven new companies from a cross-section of American business have agreed to adopt or expand their disclosure of political spending with corporate funds. This brings to 60 the number of companies embracing what is becoming a corporate governance standard. The Center for Political Accountability (CPA) and several of its shareholder advocate partners announced the agreements today.
Significantly, 40 of the companies are in the S&P 100 (companies in bold), the largest and most influential members of the corporate community that are seen as trend setters. The new agreements are with Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA), Dow Chemical Co. (NYSE: DOW), Cummins Inc. (NYSE: CMI), US Bancorp (NYSE: USB), El Paso Corp. (NYSE: EP), Baxter International Inc. (NYSE:BAX), and Dominion Resources Inc. (NYSE: D). Dominion was engaged separately by Trillium Asset Management Corp., Cummins by Green Century Capital Management, Inc., Dow Chemical by Mercy Investment Program, and US Bancorp by Calvert Asset Management Co., Inc. and Catholic Healthcare West.
Last July, the CPA and its shareholder advocate partners wrote to the 62 S&P 100 companies that had not yet adopted CPA's framework for political disclosure. "We and our shareholder partners are urging your company to seriously consider adopting this new corporate governance standard before the new proxy season begins," the letter stated. Thirty four companies responded and the CPA and its partners entered into dialogues with 27 companies. These dialogues led to the seven agreements announced today. Dominion Resources was not part of the letter-related dialogues.
"The fact that more than 50 percent of the companies responded is extraordinary and demonstrates that political disclosure is accepted today as a best practice," said Bruce F. Freed, the CPA's executive director. "Baxter, El Paso, Alcoa, Dow Chemical, and US Bancorp are to be commended for adopting or enhancing their political disclosure proactively. We congratulate Dominion Resources and Cummins for taking major steps on political disclosure."
According to Freed, the companies have agreed to disclose payments to trade associations and other tax exempt organizations (501 (c)(4)s) that are used for political purposes in addition to their soft money contributions. "This is the new standard that brings transparency and accountability to the full range of company political spending," he said.
"It is rare - that is an understatement - to see this level of widespread responsiveness from companies to a shareholder campaign. The Center's work has touched a nerve and taken corporate political accountability to levels that it would have taken legislators years to accomplish," said Shelley Alpern, Vice President at Trillium Asset Management Corp.
"Calvert is pleased that the US Bancorp's shareholders will have this critical disclosure of political expenditures," said Calvert Senior Analyst Erica Lasdon. "We appreciate the company's attention to this corporate governance best practice and hope others will follow."
"We applaud companies such as Cummins, which have adopted strong and comprehensive policies on political disclosure. As the manager of environmentally responsible mutual funds, we believe transparency and accountability are necessary to ensuring that corporate funds are not used in a way that may harm the environment or the long-term interests of the company," said Emily Stone, Shareholder Advocate for Green Century Capital Management. "As trade associations play an increasingly key role in the political process, it becomes crucial that shareholders know how corporate funds are being used so as to invest wisely, avoid risks and make sure that company funds are not used for policy objectives that may harm the long-term interests of the company."
The organizations are part of a nationwide effort of 26 socially responsible investors that is seeking to bring transparency and accountability to corporate political spending. The initiative was launched by the CPA in late 2003.
The following companies have agreed to board oversight and disclosure of their corporate political spending (those on the S&P 100 are highlighted in bold):
Adobe System (NASDAQ: ADBE), Aetna (NYSE: AET), American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP), American Express (NYSE: AXP), Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN), Avon (NYSE: AVP), Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY), Capital One (NYSE: COF), Chevron (NYSE: CVX), CIGNA (NYSE: CI), Coca Cola (NYSE: KO), Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE: CL), Computer Sciences Corp. (NYSE: CSC), Dell (NASDAQ: DELL), Devon Energy (NYSE: DVN), eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY), E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company ("DuPont") (NYSE: DD), Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY), EMC (NYSE: EMC), FirstEnergy (NYSE: FE), General Dynamics (NYSE:GD), General Electric (NYSE:GE), General Mills (NYSE: GIS), General Motors (NYSE: GM), Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), Home Depot (NYSE: HD), Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT), McDonald's (NYSE: MCD), Merck (NYSE: MRK), Monsanto (NYSE:MON), Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MWD), Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL), PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP), Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), Praxair (NYSE: PX), Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG), Prudential Financial (NYSE: PRU), Schering-Plough (NYSE: SGP), Southern (NYSE: SO), Staples (NASDAQ: SPLS), Target (NYSE: TGT), Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN), Unisys (NYSE: UIS), United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS), United Technologies (NYSE: UTX), UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), Verizon (NYSE:VZ), Washington Mutual (NYSE: WM), WellPoint (NYSE: WLP), Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL), Xerox (NYSE: XRX).
ABOUT THE CENTER FOR POLITICAL ACCOUNTABILITY
The Center for Political Accountability is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group whose mission is to bring transparency and accountability to corporate political spending.