Yale SOM on Corporations, Advocates and Voting Rights

The Yale School of Management has published a meticulously researched report on 188 different groups advocating for voting rights, with detailed information on their longevity, funding, staff, positions, and initiatives. For us, the most significant part of the report is this:

CEO commitment towards protecting the right to vote remains as strong as ever with 80% maintaining their halt on corporate donations to “Objectors” in Congress who failed in their duty to confirm the certified 2022 Electoral College vote.

The clear focus on the report is to complain that CEOs cannot be expected to sift through all of the different asks from all of these groups.

We have heard from many CEOs, government affairs professionals, and policymakers that they, as well as their boards, are confused by competing and often contradictory appeals from dozens of advocacy groups each week. Aggressive fundraising and territorial battles have been cited. Several of these groups reinforce each other but not all, and many direct their considerable resources and firepower toward the same senators and CEOs – neglecting to engage top leaders other key stakeholders such as the clergy, trade unions, pension funds, professional associations, employee forums, campus voices, and institutional investors.

This does not seem to us to be a big problem for CEOs, who like to remind us that they have the unique leadership and analytic skills to merit six and seven-figure compensation. It is not surprising that the recent attacks on voting rights, ranging from unnecessary ID requirements to limiting voting locations and early or mail-in votes to Trump’s attempts to seize power contrary to the votes in 2020. But we certainly welcome CEOs’ insight on the most effective way to engage on the foundational issue of voting rights and welcome their leadership. It should begin with absolute clarity on political spending, including direct campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures as well as spending through trade associations and other third party groups.

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