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December 23, 2019

CPA urges companies to disclose their political spending

type: Donation, NGO
by: Yair Oded

American companies and corporations collectively pour hundreds of millions of dollars behind the scenes in order to fund candidates running for office or political action committees and groups.

The result? Such companies end up shaping (and at times damaging) the democratic process in America, the outcomes of elections and the trajectory of U.S. policy - all of this without the public’s knowledge. 

The Center for Political Accountability (CPA) is a non-partisan, non-profit organisation working directly with companies and corporations to increase transparency and disclose their political spending to the public. 

CPA’s actions are particularly crucial since no laws or policies regulating companies’ reports on political spending exist on a national level.

“American citizens — and even shareholders — don't know which companies are influencing elections, how much they spend, or what the consequences are to this country. The lack of transparency — and the opportunities for bias, preferential treatment, and backroom deals — runs counter to the very concept of our democracy,” CPA states on its website. 

Among other projects, CPA publishes the annual CPA-Zicklin Index - a one-of-its-kind index documenting corporate political disclosure and accountability, maintains its database - which includes undisclosed company spending and profiles, and encourages companies to voluntarily disclose and monitor their political spending as a way to prevent risk for both the company and its shareholders. 

Established in 2003, CPA’s efforts and leadership has thus far resulted in, among other achievements, over 290 companies disclosing some or all of their political spending with corporate funds, over 150 large companies striking political disclosure agreements with CPA and/or its shareholders, and the disclosure of at least $83 million in previously hidden politically-affiliated payments. 

CPA intends to keep pushing for broader changes in corporate political spending culture in America and encourage companies to increase their built-in capacity to review and disclose political spending. 

Increased transparency will, hopefully, limit big companies’ ability to shape the country’s political landscape (and subsequently the lives of every resident) without the public’s knowledge or ability to intervene. 

You may visit CPA’s website in order to learn more about the organisation’s work, access its library of resources, track specific companies’ political spending, or pledge a donation to support its work. 

Image: Mohamad via Flickr