“Investor Reaction to Covert Corporate Political Activity”

Timothy Werner has posted this draft on SSRN (forthcoming Strategic Management Journal).

Here is the abstract:

Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission and subsequent developments created a covert channel for firms to allocate resources from corporate treasuries to political activity. Through the use of a financial market event study of an accidental disclosure of firms’ contributions to a Republican non-profit organization, I examine investors’ reactions to covert investment in independent political expenditures. I find that, on average, contributing firms experienced positive abnormal returns around the disclosure event and that these abnormal returns were more positive for firms in heavily regulated industries, as well as those previously making campaign contributions to candidates. However, firms that recently faced a shareholder resolution on political spending disclosure experienced negative abnormal returns, suggesting that the controversial nature of covert activity moderated investors’ reactions.

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