Companies invest billions of dollars in political influence through lobbying, campaign contributions, and other means. Corporations are societally chartered institutions of enormous importance and value, creating jobs, producing goods and services that consumers rely upon, impact the environment we live in and pay salaries to worker who hope to lead fulfilling lives. At the same time, corporations spend vastly greater sums on lobbying than the funds available to pro-consumer, pro-environment, and pro-worker organizations. Hence, we consider this an important, basic area of corporate governance, and adequate disclosure of corporate lobbying remains a pressing shareholder proposal topic.
SGI members filed or co-filed 12 proposals related to lobbying for the 2023 proxy season. Over the last few years, resolutions have moved from beyond basic disclosure to reporting on alignment and misalignment between a company’s stated position and the lobbying efforts that a company funds indirectly via trade associations, 501(c)(4) social welfare nonprofits, and 527 political organizations, often referred to as “dark money.” Those reports are important as the reveal the risks of lobbying misalignment.
To dig deeper into these themes, we hosted Tim Smith, senior policy advisor at ICCR, and John Keenan, Corporate Governance Analyst for Capital Strategies for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), for a webinar on Lobbying Disclosure and Lobbying Alignment.
The webinar also points investors to valuable resources concerning lobbying:
- What Do Advocates of Lobbying Disclosure Seek?
- Leading Lobbying Practices to Drive 1.5° C Climate Action
- Boston Trust Walden Resolution at UPS
- Zevin Paris Aligned Lobbying Resolution at Alphabet
- 2023 Climate Lobbying Alignment Resources
We are grateful for Tim Smith and John Keenan joining us. We want to thank all of our members and guests for attending our webinar.