2012 CPA-Zicklin Index
The 2012 CPA-Zicklin Index of Political Accountability and Disclosure
How Leading Companies Navigate Political Spending in the Wake of Citizens United
The 2012 political spending race is expected to break all prior records. Meanwhile, hidden political spending has become a juggernaut.
In this context, the second annual CPA-Zicklin Index provides a comprehensive portrait of how the largest U.S. public companies -- the top 200 companies in the S&P 500 Index -- are navigating political spending and whether they disclose it. The 2011 Index, the first of its kind, focused on S&P 100 companies.
In 2012, many large companies have increased their transparency and accountability. At the same time, there remains great room for improvement especially by smaller companies. Data from the 2012 Index reveal the following findings:
Between 2011 and 2012, many leading American companies have expanded the scope of their political spending disclosure and accountability – thereby providing more models for other companies to follow and further establishing political disclosure as a mainstream corporate practice.
Of 88 companies studied by the Index for the second year in a row, 85 percent improved their overall scores for political disclosure and accountability.
Companies showing the greatest improvement were Costco, raising its overall score from three to 85 on a scale of zero to 100; The Walt Disney Company, receiving a score of 67, up from 12; and Capital One Financial, which improved its overall score from 20 to 63.
Almost 60 percent of companies in the top echelons of the S&P 500 are now disclosing some political spending information.
Of 196 companies studied by the Index this year, 93, or 47 percent, made some disclosure of their direct political spending – including giving to candidates, parties or 527 groups – while 22 companies (11 percent) they said their policy is not to engage in such political spending.
Two out of five companies in the top echelons of the S&P 500 are opening up about their payments to trade associations.
Seventy out of the 196 companies (36 percent) made some disclosure of their payments to trade associations, while nine (5 percent) said they asked trade associations not to use their payments for political purposes.
Companies new to the Index in 2012 were smaller in size and were less likely than the larger companies to provide full disclosure of political spending, and board oversight.
Of 109 companies new to the Index, the average overall score for political disclosure and accountability was 26 on a scale of zero to 100, compared to an average overall score of 53 for those 88 companies studied a second year in a row.
The 2012 Index identified these corporate leaders for disclosure and accountability: Merck, with an overall score of 97; Microsoft, overall score of 94; Aflac, 93; Gilead, 92; and Exelon and Time Warner, Inc., 88 each.
The Center for Political Accountability began engaging corporations to voluntarily provide disclosure and oversight of political spending in 2003. Few, if any, companies disclosed their political spending then.
In September 2012, the second annual CPA-Zicklin Corporate Political Disclosure and Accountability Index reflects tangible progress. It also reflects vast gaps that shroud many corporate spenders in secrecy during a bitterly contested election year marked by surging hidden political spending.