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Covington’s cross-disciplinary team of securities and election lawyers has advised clients on corporate political disclosure issues since they first became a significant issue in 2003. The firm is one of the only major law firms to represent a client in litigation involving political spending disclosures. Although much disclosure is already required by federal, state, and local campaign finance and lobbying laws, investors and other groups are increasingly seeking additional disclosures from corporations regarding their political and lobbying activities.
We expect this trend to continue, and frequently assist corporations in their engagement with investors and other groups regarding these issues.
Many corporations find themselves targeted because their “CPA-Zicklin Index” scores are viewed as low by activists. The CPA-Zicklin Index is a joint project of the Center for Political Accountability and the Zicklin Center for Business Ethics at the Wharton School that attempts to score the political spending practices of public companies. Covington routinely advises companies regarding ways in which they can increase their CPA-Zicklin Index score and materially reduce their exposure to shareholder demands and litigation. This experience includes direct engagement with CPA on behalf of corporate clients.
Represented Qualcomm in the first lawsuit ever brought under Delaware corporate law to attempt to compel disclosure of corporate political expenditures. We negotiated a rapid resolution and the Common Retirement Fund withdrew its lawsuit.
On behalf of major fortune 500 clients, we have negotiated increased CPA-Zicklin scores, which improves their corporate governance profile, reducing the risk that those clients would be targets of litigation, shareholder proposals, and other initiatives.
We routinely advise corporations and trade associations in connection with corporate political disclosure policies and practices.
September 29, 2016, Inside Political Law
A report published today criticizes companies that refuse to disclose information about their political spending on their websites. The non-profit Center for Political Accountability and the Zicklin School at Wharton annually rank all companies in the S&P 500 on their political disclosure practices, based on a 70-point metric. The more information companies ...
April 4, 2016, The Wall Street Journal
Zack Parks is quoted in this Wall Street Journal article regarding political spending and disclosure. According to Parks, "Companies need to think strategically about these issues.” He adds, “Companies that ignore disclosure initiatives have been the target of shareholder resolutions, bad press and lawsuits. But kitchen-sink disclosure isn't risk free.”
December 16, 2015, Inside Political Law
A major spending bill posted late last night by Congressional leaders contains provisions shooting down two key initiatives of the campaign finance reform community. Stymied by a Federal Election Commission that has increasingly struggled to find consensus, campaign finance activists in recent years have turned their attention to other federal regulators, ...
October 8, 2015, Inside Political Law
A report published today by the Center for Political Accountability will result in more pressure on public companies to voluntarily disclose information about their political spending. Each year, CPA in collaboration with the Zicklin Center at the University of Pennsylvania issues a detailed report “scoring” companies on their corporate political disclosure ...
October 8, 2015, Covington Alert
March/April 2015, The Corporate Governance Advisor
January 28, 2015, Inside Political Law
Covington has recently learned that, for the first time ever, the CPA-Zicklin Index, which ranks companies’ political disclosure practices, plans to issue rankings for all 500 companies in the S&P 500 Index. This is a significant expansion of the Index, which will impact many public companies that have not previously been subject to intense scrutiny … Continue ...
January 14, 2015, Inside Political Law
Covington today released a client advisory providing best practices to assist in-house counsel of publicly-traded companies in responding to corporate political disclosure initiatives. These initiatives aim to force companies to post to their websites more information regarding corporate political activities, such as details regarding corporate contributions to ...
April 11, 2014, Inside Political Law
The rules on corporate contributions to Super PACs were made clearer today when the Federal Election Commission (FEC) released its finding that Chevron Corporation’s $2.5 million contribution in 2012 to the Congressional Leadership Fund (a Super PAC) had not violated the bar on government contractors making contributions in federal elections. Public Citizen and ...
April 2, 2014, Inside Political Law
Despite the heated rhetoric surrounding today’s McCutcheon decision, it should be remembered that the aggregate contribution limits the Court struck down today have played only a minor role in recent controversies surrounding campaign finance regulation. In recent years, debates surrounding the disclosure of political spending have instead taken center stage. ...
February 27, 2014, Inside Political Law
A coalition of 60 investors, led by the AFSCME Employees Pension Plan and Walden Asset Management, recently announced that they have submitted shareholder proposals seeking additional disclosures regarding political spending and lobbying activities. This announcement reflects a continuing desire among these groups to obtain additional disclosures from public ...
December 13, 2013, Inside Political Law
This year has not been a great one for activists seeking to force corporations to increase disclosure of their political activities. According to the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Legal Policy, average shareholder support for proposals related to political spending or lobbying declined again this year, from 22 percent to 20 percent for lobbying proposals and ...
December 7, 2013, Inside Political Law
On Thursday, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) was unable to agree on whether Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. could sponsor a Separate Segregated Fund (a corporate “SSF” or “PAC” in common parlance) that solicited contributions from the employees of its dealers and service centers. The request resulted in an unsurprising deadlock and a surprising ...