Panel of Experts Examines All Sides for Baruch Index of Corporate Political Disclosure Launch
NEW YORK, NY, September 16, 2011 -- On September 15, 2011, Baruch College’s Robert Zicklin Center for Corporate Integrity released RESULTS from The Baruch Index of Corporate Political Disclosure, which rates the S&P 100 companies from “transparent” to “opaque.” Research and results were presented by Donald H. Schepers, Ph.D., Director of the RZCCI and Naomi A. Gardberg, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Management at Baruch College.
A panel discussion moderated by Ric Marshall, Chief Analyst, Governance Metrics International (GMI) featured Barbara Bonfiglio, Senior Corporate Counsel, Pfizer; J. Adam Skaggs, Senior Counsel, Democracy Program, Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law; and Hans von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow / Manager, Civil Justice Reform Initiative, Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, The Heritage Foundation, who discussed all sides of this important issue.
“After Citizens United we’ve seen more spending,” says Adam Skaggs. “For corporations, and beyond corporations like unions and other groups that are doing the spending, I think disclosing the sources and amount of the spending is vitally important for our democracy.”
“I think it should be up to shareholders to decide, not the federal government,” says Hans von Spakovsky.”
Barbara Bonfilgio says that transparency and disclosure are not helpful without context, and shares how it’s done at Pfizer. “Shareholders need to know the base of the decision. At Pfizer there are many policies in place that drive our corporate giving and we have a steering, cross-divisional committee. All of the contributions that are approved go before the board so the board is necessarily involved in the day to day. So it’s not one person making the decision. It’s a very involved process."
In January 2010, the United States Supreme Court rendered its decision in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case. That verdict allowed corporations (among others) to be much more active in election campaigns, through methods that are publicly disclosed as well as methods that are both undisclosed and unlimited. The Robert Zicklin Center for Corporate Integrity initiated the creation of the Baruch Index in order to track corporate disclosure of these activities, by rating the S&P 100 companies with a weighted system of 57 items measuring corporate political activity at all levels and branches of government.
The Robert Zicklin Center for Corporate Integrity is a forum for discussion of a broad range of contemporary issues confronting US corporations and capital markets. Our concerns include: transparency of corporate reporting, corporate governance, examining legal and ethical corporate behavior, spotlighting executive accountability, corporate responsibility in global business development, risk assessment and amelioration, resolving conflicting corporate stakeholder interests, and evaluating the role of governmental regulation.