At the same time that shareholders are pushing for greater disclosure of corporate political spending, it is getting easier to follow the money.
The Center for Political Accountability, a non-profit organization that tracks disclosures of corporate political spending, launched a new search tool that allows users to drill down into its database and download information on corporate contributions to candidates and parties, trade associations, ballot measures and other direct or indirect payments. The data is collated from S&P 500 companies’ voluntary disclosures posted on their websites, and users can sort it variously, including by company, type of contribution, sector or state. The freely available database builds on the organization’s CPA-Zicklin Index, which was started in 2011 by CPA and the Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and ranks companies according to how transparent they are about political spending. “We wanted to create a one-stop-shop” for those interested in tracking this type of spending, said Bruce Freed, president of the CPA. The organization also helps design resolutions for shareholders to put to companies, and it also offers model policies for boards to implement best practices in political spending.