Index‌ ‌Finds‌ ‌Strong‌ ‌Growth‌ ‌in‌ ‌Political‌ ‌Disclosures‌ ‌By‌ ‌Companies‌

November 19, 2019 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – A year out from the 2020 general election, more U.S. companies are opting for transparency when it comes to what they’re spending on politics, according to a nonpartisan scorecard. 

The CPA-Zicklin Index is a joint project of the Center for Political Accountability and the Zicklin  Center for Business at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. 

The 2019 index, released in late October, found that a rise in consumer, worker and shareholder  activism is inspiring an ever-growing number of companies to “embrace the sunlight” and be as transparent as possible when it comes to their political activism. 

In fact, this past year saw the largest increase in companies with transparent policies since the  index was started five years ago, jumping from 57 in 2018, to 73 this year. 

The index calls these companies “trendsetters” and the authors noted that the number of  companies receiving this designation has increased by 160 percent since 2015. 

Among the most open companies about their political spending in 2019 are AFLAC Inc., Google’s parent company Alphabet, AT&T, Bank of America, Boeing Co., Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, McDonald’s Corp., Tractor Supply Co., and Visa. 

Bruce Freed, president and co-founder of the Center for Political Accountability said the index  indicates “that public companies are acknowledging and taking solid steps to manage the heightened risks from political spending. 

“We saw this in improved company scores and heard it in substantive conversations with 60  companies that contacted us. They’re concerned about protecting themselves from today’s inflamed political climate,” he said. 

Recognized as “most-improved” this year were Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc., American Water  Works Co., Inc., Autodesk Inc., Ball Corp., Chubb Ltd., Equinix Inc., Ford Motor Co., Fortune  Brands Home & Security, Kohls Corp., Lowe’s Companies, Macy’s Inc., Mondelez International Inc., MSCI Inc., PVH Corp., SVB Financial Group, and WestRock Co. 

The authors also found an uptick in the number of companies abstaining from political spending,  the number rising from 10 in 2018 to 12 this year. 

These companies typically stayed out of politics themselves, and asked third parties not to use  company payments for election-related purposes.

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