Washington DC - As the 2009 proxy season formally opens, the pace of political disclosure is accelerating as seven new companies from a cross-section of American business have agreed to adopt or expand their disclosure of political spending with corporate funds. This brings to 60 the number of companies embracing what is becoming a corporate governance standard. The Center for Political Accountability (CPA) and several of its shareholder advocate partners announced the agreements today.
Significantly, 40 of the companies are in the S&P 100 (companies in bold), the largest and most influential members of the corporate community that are seen as trend setters. The new agreements are with Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA), Dow Chemical Co. (NYSE: DOW), Cummins Inc. (NYSE: CMI), US Bancorp (NYSE: USB), El Paso Corp. (NYSE: EP), Baxter International Inc. (NYSE:BAX), and Dominion Resources Inc. (NYSE: D). Dominion was engaged separately by Trillium Asset Management Corp., Cummins by Green Century Capital Management, Inc., Dow Chemical by Mercy Investment Program, and US Bancorp by Calvert Asset Management Co., Inc. and Catholic Healthcare West.
Last July, the CPA and its shareholder advocate partners wrote to the 62 S&P 100 companies that had not yet adopted CPA's framework for political disclosure. "We and our shareholder partners are urging your company to seriously consider adopting this new corporate governance standard before the new proxy season begins," the letter stated. Thirty four companies responded and the CPA and its partners entered into dialogues with 27 companies. These dialogues led to the seven agreements announced today. Dominion Resources was not part of the letter-related dialogues.
"The fact that more than 50 percent of the companies responded is extraordinary and demonstrates that political disclosure is accepted today as a best practice," said Bruce F. Freed, the CPA's executive director. "Baxter, El Paso, Alcoa, Dow Chemical, and US Bancorp are to be commended for adopting or enhancing their political disclosure proactively. We congratulate Dominion Resources and Cummins for taking major steps on political disclosure."
According to Freed, the companies have agreed to disclose payments to trade associations and other tax exempt organizations (501 (c)(4)s) that are used for political purposes in addition to their soft money contributions. "This is the new standard that brings transparency and accountability to the full range of company political spending," he said.
"It is rare - that is an understatement - to see this level of widespread responsiveness from companies to a shareholder campaign. The Center's work has touched a nerve and taken corporate political accountability to levels that it would have taken legislators years to accomplish," said Shelley Alpern, Vice President at Trillium Asset Management Corp.
"Calvert is pleased that the US Bancorp's shareholders will have this critical disclosure of political expenditures," said Calvert Senior Analyst Erica Lasdon. "We appreciate the company's attention to this corporate governance best practice and hope others will follow."
"We applaud companies such as Cummins, which have adopted strong and comprehensive policies on political disclosure. As the manager of environmentally responsible mutual funds, we believe transparency and accountability are necessary to ensuring that corporate funds are not used in a way that may harm the environment or the long-term interests of the company," said Emily Stone, Shareholder Advocate for Green Century Capital Management. "As trade associations play an increasingly key role in the political process, it becomes crucial that shareholders know how corporate funds are being used so as to invest wisely, avoid risks and make sure that company funds are not used for policy objectives that may harm the long-term interests of the company."
The organizations are part of a nationwide effort of 26 socially responsible investors that is seeking to bring transparency and accountability to corporate political spending. The initiative was launched by the CPA in late 2003.
The following companies have agreed to board oversight and disclosure of their corporate political spending (those on the S&P 100 are highlighted in bold):
Adobe System (NASDAQ: ADBE), Aetna (NYSE: AET), American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP), American Express (NYSE: AXP), Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN), Avon (NYSE: AVP), Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY), Capital One (NYSE: COF), Chevron (NYSE: CVX), CIGNA (NYSE: CI), Coca Cola (NYSE: KO), Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE: CL), Computer Sciences Corp. (NYSE: CSC), Dell (NASDAQ: DELL), Devon Energy (NYSE: DVN), eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY), E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company ("DuPont") (NYSE: DD), Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY), EMC (NYSE: EMC), FirstEnergy (NYSE: FE), General Dynamics (NYSE:GD), General Electric (NYSE:GE), General Mills (NYSE: GIS), General Motors (NYSE: GM), Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), Home Depot (NYSE: HD), Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT), McDonald's (NYSE: MCD), Merck (NYSE: MRK), Monsanto (NYSE:MON), Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MWD), Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL), PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP), Pfizer (NYSE: PFE),Praxair (NYSE: PX), Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG), Prudential Financial (NYSE: PRU), Schering-Plough (NYSE: SGP), Southern (NYSE: SO), Staples (NASDAQ: SPLS), Target (NYSE: TGT), Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN),Unisys (NYSE: UIS), United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS), United Technologies (NYSE: UTX), UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), Verizon (NYSE:VZ),Washington Mutual (NYSE: WM), WellPoint (NYSE: WLP), Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL), Xerox (NYSE: XRX).
ABOUT THE CENTER FOR POLITICAL ACCOUNTABILITY
The Center for Political Accountability is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group whose mission is to bring transparency and accountability to corporate political spending.
ABOUT TRILLIUM ASSET MANAGEMENT
Since 1982, Trillium Asset Management Corporation has been helping clients meet their financial goals and have a positive impact on society through socially responsible
investing. TAMC manages more than $1 billion for high net worth individuals and institutions.
ABOUT THE SISTERS OF MERCY and MERCY INVESTMENT PROGRAM
The Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Regional Community of Detroit is one of the regional communities within the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, an international
community of Roman Catholic sisters who address human needs through collaborative efforts in education, health care, housing, and pastoral and social services. The Detroit regional community includes 200 sisters and 60 lay associates serving in twelve U.S. states and in Argentina.
Mercy Investment Program is a pooled investment program for the Institute and geographic regions of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas and their sponsored ministries. Through the Corporation, the Sisters of Mercy seek to steward financial resources in a manner that models mercy and justice, promotes social responsibility and
recognizes the need for prudent risk/return in the management of these limited resources to the support of various community and ministry endeavors.
ABOUT CALVERT ASSET MANAGEMENT
Calvert has been setting industry standards for asset management excellence since 1976. Calvert's investment approach emphasizes rigorous fundamental research that goes beyond traditional measures to uncover companies strongly positioned for potential long-term success. More than 400,000 investors have approximately $11.5 billion in assets with Calvert.
ABOUT CATHOLIC HEALTHCARE WEST
Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) is the eighth largest hospital system in the nation and the largest not-for-profit hospital provider in the West. Founded in 1986, the CHW network of more than 9,500 physicians and approximately 53,000 employees serve a population spanning 22 million people at 41 hospitals across California,Arizona, and Nevada. CHW is committed to delivering compassionate, high-quality, affordable healthcare services with special attention to the poor and underserved. In 2007, CHW provided $922 million in charity care, community benefits, and unreimbursed patient care.
ABOUT GREEN CENTURY CAPITAL MANAGEMENT
Green Century Capital Management, Inc. (GCCM) is the administrator of Green Century Funds, a family of environmentally responsible mutual funds. It was founded by non-profit environmental advocacy organizations and is wholly owned by non-profit advocacy groups.
Bruce F. Freed, Center for Political Accountability, 301-233-3621
Shelley Alpern, Trillium Asset Management Corp., 617-292-8026 x 248
Larisa Ruoff, Green Century Capital Management, Inc., 617-482-0800
Valerie Heinonen, Mercy Investment Program, 212-674-2542
Erica Lasdon, Calvert Asset Management Co., Inc., 301-961-4761
Susan Vickers, Catholic Healthcare West, 415-347-0261