Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment
Corporate Governance & Finance
Following on the 2010 US Supreme Court Citizens United decision that government cannot place limits on corporations’ spending for political purposes, ICCR and other responsible investors began drawing attention to the issue of corporate political spending and lobbying. In 2014-2015, more than 60 investors have filed proposals with more than 50 companies asking for lobbying disclosure reports that include federal and state lobbying payments, payments to trade associations used for lobbying and payments to any tax-exempt organization that writes and endorses model legislation.
The proposals continue to focus on reputational risks from involvement in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a tax-exempt organization that convenes state lawmakers and corporations to approve model legislation that has included controversial bills on Voter ID, anti-immigration, reversing state regulations on renewable energy and blocking EPA regulation.
More than 100 companies have announced leaving ALEC, including Ameren, eBay, Emerson Electric, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, Occidental Petroleum and Yahoo. Prominent continuing ALEC members receiving 2015 proposals include: AT&T, Chevron, Comcast, Dominion Resources, ExxonMobil, Honeywell, Time Warner Cable and United Parcel Service.
Walden Asset Management, leader of the engagement with Microsoft, commented on the Company’s exit from ALEC: Microsoft is a leader on carbon issues—in 2012, it committed to becoming carbon neutral, and is one of the largest corporate purchasers of renewable energy. Thus, we believe that its affiliation with ALEC, which is actively fighting policies that promote renewable energy, was incongruous.