The Center for Competitive Politics released a report on Activist Investing intended to dispute claims made by some groups that corporations and businesses should be wary of the “economic risks” posed by engaging in political speech.
Filed Under: Faulty Assumptions, First Amendment, Research, activist, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, corporate governance, corporations, investing, Faulty Assumptions, First Amendment, Faulty Assumptions, First Amendment
David Primo, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Rochester and a member of CCP’s Board of Academic Advisors, has published an interesting report on the failure of disclosure laws to live up to their performance. The study, “Full Disclosure: How Campaign Finance Disclosure Laws Fail to Inform Voters and Stifle Public Debate,” is available at the website of our friends at the Institute for Justice, here.
Filed Under: Blog
Today, CCP is releasing materials documenting the effort of some groups to engage in corporate democracy, a managed and directed attempt to convince corporations of the “economic risk” of engaging in political speech. The CCP Report on Activist Investing, as well as a supplemental report by George Mason University Law Professor J.W. Verret and an Issue Toolkit, represent our attempt to note the ideological slant of some of these groups and the dangers their efforts pose to free political speech.
In short, while there is no evidence that corporate political speech hurts shareholders, there is ample evidence that certain individuals and groups are opposed to corporate political involvement for ideological and partisan reasons. Politics is supposed to be hard. With a handful of exceptions, there is no unanimity on economic and social topics. In a democracy, we deal with these disagreements through persuasion: we choose our leaders and enact our ballot measures only after a period of free debate and discussion, only after a campaign.
But some people want to take a shortcut. They’ve realized it’s easier to persuade voters if you drive your opponent from the public square.
Sarah Lee, Communications Director,
Center for Competitive Politics
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The Center for Competitive Politics today released a report on Activist Investing intended to dispute claims made by some groups that corporations and businesses should be wary of the “economic risks” posed by engaging in political speech.
The materials, currently posted on CCP’s website are an attempt to document the efforts of some groups to engage in what is known as “corporate democracy,” or the managed and directed attempt to convince businesses that they put themselves at market risk by speaking out politically.
The information released today includes a report by the CCP Legal Department on Activist Investing, a supplemental report by J.W. Verret of the George Mason University Law School and an Issue Toolkit with other information outlining the issue from the perspective of CCP.
The Committee for Economic Development is a group of chief executives of very large, publicly-traded U.S. corporations and university presidents that has long favored campaign finance restrictions. As the group’s long-time Chairman, former Deloitte-Touche Chairman Ed Kangas wrote in the New York Times in 1999, the multinational giants of CED don’t mind campaign finance restrictions at all:
“We have lobbyists and trade associations, and we provide many jobs, all of which helps us to be heard.”
Which is exactly what we at CCP have been saying for years.
These days, the CED is pushing to have the government pay for campaigns, and to that end, they’ve taken a poll in New Hampshire:
Multimedia and video producer Remy Munasifi, best known for his hilarious take on what it’s like to ride the Metro in DC, the peculiar truth behind Saudis in Audis, and his rap homage to Arlington, was commissioned by the Center for Competitive Politics to create a few videos related to some of the issues the center believes are important and emerging topics in the current political climate. His first has been completed and is currently posted on the CCP YouTube Channel. “Free Speech Song” is a little country ditty detailing the need to promote and protect the first amendment right of free speech — even when that speech falls short of the popular consensus.
Filed Under: Blog
Corporations, like unions and other organizations, have a constitutional right to discuss politics. The Supreme Court has explicitly welcomed corporate speech on political topics, including the qualifications of officeholders and candidates. Yet many people would prefer to see corporate political speech excluded from the public debate.
Having lost the constitutional battle, reformers who oppose corporate speech have tried to pass legislation or enact regulations that would make it more difficult for corporations to participate in our political discussions. Those efforts have largely failed.
In the wake of last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the scope of political speech protected under the First Amendment has substantially expanded. Whereas corporations and unions were previously prohibited from directly advocating for and against political candidates by spending funds from their general treasury, the Supreme Court has now recognized that those viewpoints are important components of the national debate by which we Americans govern ourselves, and that the First Amendment does not permit the government to suppress or stifle those voices.
But this decision has been controversial. Many object to the Citizens United decision because of a general view that money spent in the political process is somehow inherently corrupting or distorting. Others – especially those from within the environmental and labor movements – see for-profit corporations as their political enemy, and seek partisan or ideological advantage by squelching corporate political speech while their own speech remains unencumbered.
Filed Under: Blog, Corporate Governance, Corporate Governance Federal, Corporate Governance Research, Disclosure, Disclosure Press Release/In the News/Blog, External Relations Sub-Pages, DISCLOSE, Disclose Act
Center for Competitive Politics founder Bradley Smith was quoted in several news outlets over the past week, expressing his thoughts on everything from the explosion of the SuperPAC in the run-up to the 2012 election, to the war on Citizens United from the likes of Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and George Soros. From City Hall: “‘Over the past decade, George Soros has been a pervasive force that has outspent the vast majority of American corporations,’ said Brad Smith, the Republican former chairman of the Federal Elections Commission, who runs the conservative Center for Competitive Politics. ‘I don’t know why you would say corporate spending is more corrupt or unequal than that by George Soros. It really seems like a pretense to effectively silence political opposition.'”
Filed Under: Blog
Sometimes they make it too easy.
The New York Times reported that New York City Comptroller John C. Liu, who is considered a leading contender to replace New York mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2012, is being investigated for possible campaign finance fraud after having built what the Times called “a formidable fund-raising machine” that netted him $1 million in six months, mostly through $800 donations that were matched by the city’s “clean elections” program.
New York has a system of public matching funds for elections, a system that places a number of restrictions on participating candidates. These include serious restrictions on the amount of money a single donor can give to a campaign. But in return, participating politicians can receive a lucrative six-to-one match, out of the public coffers, for many of their campaign contributions. This creates an enormous incentive for some supporters to fraudulently report donors who did not donate as much as claimed, did not donate at all, or sometimes don’t even exist.