A new study conducted by the non-profit, non-partisan Center for Political Accountability with the Zicklin Center at University of Pennsylvania examines how major businesses spend money to influence politics.
The study identified a total of 29 indicators to gauge disclosure, policies, compliance and oversight of all of the top S&P 100 companies in order to assess companies on political transparency and accountability. 14 companies tied for the worst possible score, including Disney, Amazon, NIKE and Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway. The four companies with the top possible score were Colgate-Palmolive Co., Exelon Corp., IBM and Merck.
The study also outlines what it describes to be "striking findings" that:
- Voluntary disclosure of political spending is becoming a mainstream corporate practice
- A growing number of companies are putting restrictions on the political use of their money
Established in 2003 and working with more than 20 shareholders advocates, the CPA is the only group to directly engage companies to improve disclosure and oversight of their political spending. This includes soft money contributions and payments to trade associations. The center was formed to "address the secrecy that cloaks much of the political activity engaged in by companies and the risks this poses to shareholder value."
The Carol and Lawrence Zicklin Center for Business Research at Penn was established in 1997 with the mission "to sponsor and disseminate leading-edge research on critical topics in business ethics."