Category Archives: lobbying

Shareholder Resolutions on Political Spending

Harvard Law School’s Forum on Corporate Governance has this post, based on information from Institutional Shareholder Services, Inc., on shareholder resolutions regarding corporate political spending during the 2022 proxy season:

More shareholder resolutions were filed in the 2022 proxy season than in the previous year, with 586 environmental and social proposals submitted at U.S. companies so far, compared with 561 in 2021. Though many have since been withdrawn, many have been or will be voted on. According to data from ISS Corporate Solutions, 569 shareholder resolutions on ESG issues have either been voted on or are pending in annual meetings through November this year….

There were a number of different kinds of resolutions focused on political spending, all trying to get at slightly differing types of information:

– Report on Political Contributions

– Report on Congruency of Political Spending with Company Values and Priorities

– Report on Global Public Policy and Political Influence

– Report on Political Contributions and Expenditures

– Issue Transparency Report on Global Public Policy and Political Influence


Some 19 proposals were filed on political spending in this year’s proxy season, with 16 already coming to a vote. Two of those, (Dollar General Corporation and Twitter, Inc.) received majority support. Overall average support was 34.1%. While the highest level of support was over 50%, the lowest was 4.2% at DISH Network Corporation, a company that is majority owned by insiders.

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“Hours before leaving office, Trump undoes one of the only measures he took to ‘drain the swamp’”


President Trump rescinded an executive order early Wednesday morning that had limited federal administration officials from lobbying the government or working for foreign countries after they leave their posts, undoing one of the few measures he had instituted to fulfill his 2016 campaign promise to “drain the swamp.”

Trump had signed the now-reversed executive order with much fanfare in an Oval Office ceremony in January 2017.

“Most of the people standing behind me will not be able to go to work” after they leave government, Trump said at the time, flanked by senior aides.

The order required executive branch appointees to sign a pledge that they would never work as registered foreign lobbyists, and it banned them from lobbying the federal agencies where they worked for five years after leaving the government.

Ethics experts at the time noted the order had loopholes — but still offered cautious praise for Trump’s attempt at halting the revolving door that allows government employees to use their positions to land lucrative jobs in the private sector.

No explanation was given for why Trump chose to rescind the order. The White House released the directive at 1:08 a.m. on the day he will leave office. It had been signed Tuesday.

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“Biden to ban special bonuses for appointees, expand lobbying prohibitions in new ethics rules”


President-elect Joe Biden will ban his senior presidential appointees from accepting special bonuses akin to “golden parachutes” from former employers for joining the government, while putting in place other expanded revolving-door restrictions in his first days in office.

The new ethics rules, which were described by transition officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the draft executive order is not public, will in some ways go beyond the guidelines for senior appointees that were put in place by the Trump and Obama administrations.

The biggest shift is the new rule that will ban incoming officials from receiving compensation from their previous employer for taking a government job, a practice that has been a flash point for government reform advocates and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Under the Biden program, appointees would still be able to accelerate vesting for compensation they have already earned.

For departing administration employees, the Biden rules create a prohibition on lobbying the administration for at least the length of Biden’s term and add a one-year restriction on assisting lobbying efforts.

That is an effort to crack down on lucrative “shadow lobbying” jobs, in which former officials go to work at law firms to help guide lobbyists without making contact with government officials themselves.

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“Elliott Broidy, a Top Trump Fund-Raiser, Charged in Foreign Influence Case”


The details of the accusations against Mr. Broidy are especially striking: They include a promised $75 million success fee from Mr. Low and discussions about arranging for Malaysia’s prime minister to play golf with Mr. Trump. But they follow a pattern that has become familiar since Mr. Trump began seeking the White House.

People who had backgrounds or were pursuing business that was likely to have raised red flags in other campaigns and administrations marketed themselves as intermediaries to individuals, companies and countries wanting something from the Trump administration. They were able to do so because Mr. Trump ran for office and came to Washington without the established networks of gatekeepers, lobbyists and fund-raisers that typically surround a president.

 number of Mr. Trump’s associates have been charged in the nearly four years since he was elected. Among those who have pleaded or were found guilty of charges related to their work for him are Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser whose case the Justice Department is now seeking to dismissGeorge Papadopoulos, a former campaign adviser; and Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime friend whose sentence the president commuted.

Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his deputy, Rick Gates, were charged with lobbying and financial crimes that predated their work for the president’s campaign. The two pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors, as did Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s longtime personal lawyer.

Mr. Cohen, Mr. Gates and Mr. Manafort had sought to parlay their perceived access to the president into business opportunities.

But few figures seized on the Trump presidency more ambitiously than Mr. Broidy, who owns a defense contracting firm.

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“Lobbyist Jack Abramoff Charged in Crypto-Currency Case, U.S. Says”


Jack Abramoff, the onetime Washington insider who went to prison in a lobbying scandal, was charged with a criminal conspiracy related to cryptocurrency and lobbying disclosure, a U.S. prosecutor said.

Abramoff has agreed to plead guilty and faces as long as five years in prison, San Francisco U.S. Attorney David Anderson said Thursday at a press conference in San Francisco.

Separately, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued Abramoff, alleging he was part of a fraudulent and unregistered offer and sale of digital asset securities by NAC Foundation LLV, a company that was in early-stage development of a blockchain-based digital token called AML BitCoin….

In the early 2000s, Abramoff was at the center of a scandal that led to 20 convictions or guilty pleas, including two officials in President George W. Bush’s administration, a member of Congress, congressional aides and nine other lobbyists. Abramoff served 43 months in prison before he was released in 2010.

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“Recording Shows That the Swamp Has Not Been Drained”


Ot became such a central slogan of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 campaign that at rallies his supporters would chant the three words representing his pledge to take on big donors and special interests: “Drain the swamp.”

But as President Trump ramps up his 2020 re-election bid, it is clear that he has tolerated if not fostered a swamp of his own in Washington, granting up-close access to deep-pocketed supporters and interest groups willing to write six- and seven-figure checks to his political operation. Some have used the opportunity to plead their cases directly to him.

The latest evidence came over the weekend, with the release of a secret recording of an April 2018 dinner for major donors and prospective donors to a super PAC supporting Mr. Trump.

While news of the recording primarily focused on Mr. Trump’s call for the removal of Marie L. Yovanovitch as ambassador to Ukraine after a donor claimed she had disparaged the president, the recording revealed that Mr. Trump engaged in policy discussions with many other donors pushing their own agendas.

There was the New York real estate developer whose company’s project in South Korea was proposed to Mr. Trump as a possible site for his summit with Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea.

There was the Canadian steel magnate who pushed the president to further limit steel imports to the United States, and whose companies donated $1.75 million to the super PAC.

Other attendees discussed government policies that could benefit their businesses, including building a highway for self-driving trucks and regulations that would help make trucks powered by gas compressors to be more competitive with electric-powered vehicles.

The recording is a glimpse into a broader pattern in which the administration appointed industry lobbyists to key policymaking jobs, heeded the deregulatory wishes of big corporations and granted regular access to donors and influential political supporters. Some of the policies sought by the donors at the 2018 dinner have been subsequently introduced in Congress; it is unclear in those cases whether the president or the White House intervened.

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“The Real Power of Bloomberg’s Money”

A piece in the Atlantic on the governance options available to billionaires:

When people think about the political relevance of Michael Bloomberg’s money, they tend to think about how his massive spending helps his campaigns: the record $261 million he spent on his three successful mayoral runs, the billions he could end up spending on his quest for the presidency. What people often miss is that Bloomberg actually spent more of his own money boosting his policy efforts in city hall than he did to get there.

Part of Bloomberg’s presidential sales pitch is that his personal wealth—he’s worth an estimated $56 billion—makes him incorruptible. Not only is he unbribeable; being rich enough to never take political contributions, he can assume office unbeholden to donors. But Bloomberg is so rich that he shifts the direction of potential influence: Donors may not be able to buy influence, but he can use his wealth to push things in the directions he wants.

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