Vigilant companies can avert Watergate scandal replay | TheHill

Karl Sandstrom and Bruce Freed write in The Hill about liability and reputational risk from corporate dark money political contributions.

  • NextEra, a Florida-based utility giant, has faced sharp questions about its $1 million contribution to Jeb Bush’s presidential Super PAC. The ex-governor had earlier given public support to a rate hike sought by the company, according to media reports.
  • Paul H. Jossey, a campaign finance lawyer involved with creating and operating Super PACs, warned in a recent first-person essay about their misuse. Certain PACs dunned Tea Party “true believers” and “used that money first to enrich themselves and their vendors and then deployed most of the rest to search for more ‘prospects,” Jossey wrote.
  • At least 45 well-known corporations with strong internal anti-discrimination policies gave to the Republican State Leadership Committee, a national group instrumental in flipping control of the North Carolina legislature, it was reported in April; in turn, North Carolina legislators this year enacted legislation barring municipalities from adopting rules to prevent bias against LGBT people.
  • Arizona Public Service, the state’s leading public utility, is under FBI investigation for alleged “dark money” political contributions to independent political groups in order to influence state regulators on a rate increase sought by the company. The investigation is getting saturation media coverage in Arizona.We don’t advocate stifling legitimate political giving by public corporations, yet we believe that when shareholders and the public are left in the dark about this spending, they and companies face a serious risk.

Because company spending through third-party political groups is becoming an increasingly serious problem, it is imperative that companies know how their political money is being spent: Who’s receiving it, the purpose of the contribution and the motivation behind it.

Source: Vigilant companies can avert Watergate scandal replay | TheHill

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