Read CPA President Bruce Freed and Karl Sandstrom's new Op-Ed, "A Surprising Solution to America's Dark Money Problem," in U.S. News and World Report.


In Memoriam: Werner W. Brandt

The Center for Political Accountability notes with sadness the passing on July 11 of Werner W. Brandt, a dear friend and esteemed colleague, strong supporter, and member and Treasurer of the CPA Board.

Mr. Brandt was Sergeant at Arms in the House of Representatives from 1992 to 1995. Prior to that he worked as a top aide for Rep. Thomas Foley of Washington, the Speaker of the House. Mr. Brandt also worked at Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas as a government affairs counselor and for 10 years in the U.S. Foreign Service.

“Werner lived an exemplary life of public service,” said John Milton Cooper Jr., chairman of the CPA board of directors. “Werner truly embodied what Robert Kennedy like to call politics, ‘an honorable adventure.’   

“As both a CPA board member and treasurer, Werner made himself the lynchpin of our organization. He understood our aims and purposes as well as anyone, and he had the rare gift of being able to listen and judge a situation and then get to the heart of the matter in just a few words of dazzling insight.”

"Werner had a special gift for taking the concerns he cared passionately about and helping to develop policy strategy or a narrative for reform,” said Bruce Freed, CPA president. “With a love for this work, he was among the best. 

"CPA will miss Werner sorely. He believed that our work is central to restoring balance and integrity to company involvement in the political process and to protecting the integrity of our democracy. As a CPA director, he contributed greatly to CPA's effectiveness and success."

“Werner knew the value of public service and consequently never fell victim to the cynicism so prevalent in our politics,” said CPA counsel Karl Sandstrom. “He knew that advancing the public good required commitment, an ability to absorb setbacks and maybe most importantly partners. He was a great friend who we will miss.”

Companies Increasingly Find Disclosure a "Positive Experience," Rebuilds Trust
Founders Column: By Bruce Freed

At a recent expert panel on corporate political activity, a senior staffer for The Conference Board emphasized the positive experience reported by companies that have chosen to disclose their political spending.

Now you can listen to the remarks of Marcel Bucsescu, assistant director of The Conference Board Governance Center. The Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals has made a recording of the session available at its website.

During a robust debate, Bucsescu spoke favorably about corporations’ experience with disclosure, and also about board oversight. Bucsescu is a leader for The Conference Board Committee on Corporate Political Spending.

Public companies that belong to the Committee have recognized the need for disclosure and how it fits their interests, and they have fashioned disclosure programs that fit their needs. These companies “have found benefits to disclosing,” Bucsescu said.

In some cases, member companies engage their investors proactively around disclosure, he said. Some companies use disclosure to engage with other stakeholders. And many tie disclosure directly to their public policy strategy overall.

Noting that he was speaking on behalf of Committee members, Bucsescu said they went through a process of asking the “fundamental question” of whether they would engage in public policy, and if they decided affirmatively, they then tackled another set of questions that reached all the way to disclosure.

“’Do we disclose? And what do we disclose? And what works for our organization, and our industry, and the broader interest for the society in which we operate?’”

“By and large, [for] the Committee members, it’s certainly a positive experience for them,” Bucsescu said.

Bucsescu also said disclosure can be used as a way for companies to rebuild trust and address an anti-business climate. He said people have long cared about “the influence of companies, not only on our elected representatives but also on their daily lives.”

Regarding board oversight, Bucsescu said, “I think the key thing is the board is engaged here, understands the policy and has thought through it with management, and then provides the appropriate amount of oversight."


 

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