From Paul Hodgson:
The lack of disclosure makes it impossible to figure out which companies are the biggest political spenders. But figures on the website Open Secrets reveal at least a partial sense of the pecking order. For example, three of the biggest corporate PAC contributors were Honeywell, AT&T, and Lockheed Martin, which all gave more than $2.5 million to Democratic and Republican candidates. Top corporate donors to federal candidates include Koch Industries and Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands.
Shareholders can find out how transparent their companies are about political spending by referring to the CPA-Zicklin Index of Corporate Political Disclosure and Accountability, which covers most of the Fortune 500. The index rates companies out of a possible 100 on their disclosure policies. Two companies in 2014 received a record high overall score of 97.1 points – Noble Energy and CSX Corp. At the other end of the scale, 65 companies had scores of 10 points or lower, and 20 of them had scores of zero. Those at the bottom of the heap include Berkshire Hathaway, Netflix, and Ralph Lauren.
The index also lists some companies that claim to not make political contributions of any kind. These include IBM, Colgate-Palmolive, and Goldman Sachs.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable have actively campaigned against efforts to get their members to open up about political spending. Of course, these two groups are also among the largest recipients of corporate funds. According to CPA data, the U.S. Chamber and the Business Roundtable received $21 million from 80 companies so far over the last two election cycles.