Gavel Grab

Survey Suggests Many Corporate Directors in Dark on Political Spending

Unless you live under a rock you probably know that spending on elections continues to rise with every cycle. That’s true at every level of political competition, and for virtually every state and federal office. This year many are forecasting the first ever $1 billion Presidential campaign. Justice at Stake has documented that much of the rise in spending in judicial campaigns can be attributed to business-backed groups (in some states, such as Pennsylvania, trial lawyers and unions are also fueling the arms race for cash).

A new survey of members of boards of directors, commissioned by the Center for Political Accountability and conducted by Mason-Dixon polling, has some eye popping numbers. The survey points out a number of startling discrepancies. For instance, 51 percent of those surveyed say they are “very” familiar with their company’s political advocacy and activities, with another 35 percent saying they are “somewhat” familiar. That sounds promising, right? Yet on a four question set testing what is really very basic knowledge of the intersection of board supervision and election law, super majorities fail miserably. Consider that 73 percent think that corporations are required to publicly disclose all of their political spending. Only 12 percent know that, in fact, that is not true.

While many corporate directors may be out to lunch on what the law actually says about corporate political activity, the good news is that there is a strong belief that disclosure of political spending is a cornerstone of corporate responsibility: 88 percent support full disclosure of spending, while 68 percent also support disclosing the standards governing their political spending. There is similarly strong support (64 percent) for transparency in the dues paid to trade associations and other tax-exempt organizations if those funds are to be used for political purposes.It’s a great poll. Check out the entire survey here.

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  1. Mike Harmon March 4th, 2008 1:00 pm

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Mike Harmon

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