What’s Next for Corporate Political Disclosure?

NACD Directorship spoke with Glass Lewis Chief Policy Officer Robert McCormick on what boards and shareholders can expect in the upcoming proxy season:

“Having just come through a presidential election and the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United allowing political expenditures from corporations (and unions), what’s your expectation for how campaign finances will be disclosed?

If you had asked me about six months ago, I would have said, “Well, with the election being over, the fallout from Citizens United may be dissipating and there will probably be less focus on it.” However, the more I hear anecdotally, the more I expect there to be at least as much focus on political contribution activity and ultimately disclosure by companies.… Some shareholders probably don’t want companies to make any donations, and this may be a way to try to force that on companies. But I think most investors are just looking for more information—if this is an outlay of shareholder money, which it is, what are the returns that shareholders can expect on it? And are there any reputational risks that come from this? Which is what Target ran into. So it’s not so much that shareholders want them to stop, but shareholders want to make sure that the board is aware of the donations, that there is a structure for board oversight, and to understand what the returns are for making this investment—just like any other investment a company would make.”



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