Thursday, September 21, 2023

"Clandestine Corporate Political Spending as Illicit Insider Trading"

At the moment this is a personal bookmark but will probably be referred to somewhere down the line.

From Columbia Law School's CLS Blue Sky blog, June 15, 2023:

Fueled by the landmark decision in Citizens United, which granted corporations essentially the same political speech rights as humans, corporations continually attempt to control political outcomes, ostensibly to promote shareholder value.[1]  During the 2022 election cycle, corporations and business groups spent over $4.1 billion on political lobbying.[2]  In the last presidential election, total advertising expenditures reached $8.5 billion, with most coming from corporate treasuries.[3]

Perhaps to avoid a backlash from the market, corporations increasingly opt for a clandestine approach to political activism, with a striking amount of their spending contributions going to “dark money” entities.[4]  In the last presidential election, estimates of expenditures from dark money groups exceeded $1 billion.[5] Despite the difficulty in tracing contributions, recent studies suggest corporations gave more than $750 million to dark money groups during the 2020 election.

The desire of corporate managers to evade public scrutiny for their political activism runs counter to the basic plea for transparency in Citizens United.

In both the securities and political realms, transparency remains the primary tool to combat corporate fraud.[6]  But without mandatory disclosure regarding corporate political spending, “shareholders have no way to assess whether corporate political spending benefits them, and [have] every reason to believe it is fraught with risks to the corporate brand, business reputation, the bottom line and, by extension, shareholder returns.”[7]

Despite persistent calls for mandatory disclosure of corporate political spending from investors, market professionals, politicians, academics, and regulators, corporations currently face no such disclosure requirement. In fact, Congress continues in its latest omnibus budget bill to prohibit the SEC from using any of the funds appropriated “to finalize, issue, or implement any rule, regulation, or order regarding the disclosure of political contributions, contributions to tax exempt organizations, or dues paid to trade associations.”[8]....


Possibly related, September 16:

"Lobbying’s Secret Frontier: Corporate Philanthropy"