By Douglas Chia
Monday, February 8, 2021
The fallout from the storming of the Capitol building on January 6, 2020 by organized groups of militant and militarized Trump supporters at the behest of the President himself has been widespread, and there has been a backlash by corporate America. Scores of major corporations were quick to restrain or press the “pause” button on their political action committee (PAC) contributions.
Corporate political spending has long been an issue in corporate governance, and the objections have steadily grown louder and gained more support. Prominent corporate governance experts have been calling for regulatory action for years now, most notably 10 professors (including Director of the Harvard Law School Program on Corporate Governance, Lucian Bebchuk, and future SEC Commissioner Robert Jackson) who filed a rule-making petition to the SEC in 2011 that received over one million comment letters in support, and Bruce Freed of the Center for Political Accountability who has led the movement to persuade corporations be more transparent about their political contributions. Former Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Leo Strine has also contributed scholarly work to the conversation.
Shareholder proposals on this issue are receiving increasingly higher levels of support.  And in December, after years of indicating that it did not place much importance on corporate political contributions disclosures, BlackRock said it has started to “evaluate a company’s disclosure and other publicly available information to consider how a company’s political contributions and lobbying may impact the company,” and where it sees “material inconsistencies with [the company’s] stated public policy priorities, [BlackRock] may support a shareholder proposal requesting additional disclosure or explanation for such inconsistency.”
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