October 03, 2010

Against the backdrop of a mid-term election season characterized by unprecedented spending from often unclear sources, The Conference Board today published a groundbreaking Handbook on Corporate Political Activity to help companies responsibly navigate the risk-laden environment of campaign spending. The Handbook draws upon input from numerous executives, directors, and institutional shareholders and focuses specifically on the evolving governance issues related to political engagement.

“The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC has significantly increased the avenues for corporate political activity, and the next proxy season will almost certainly bring increased shareholder proposals on spending disclosure and board oversight,” said Paul DeNicola, Director of The Conference Board Governance Center and a co-author of the Handbook. “Companies must ensure their internal controls and compliance systems take account of this, and that managements and boards understand their roles and the implications of operating in this new environment.”

“Whatever happens on the legislative front, any corporation participating in political activity without a rigorous governance oversight process heightens its risk exposure,” said Bruce Freed, President of The Center for Political Accountability, a co-author of the Handbook. “Decisions about government affairs need to be integrated across a company and its governance. The handbook offers a guide for creating an ethical corporate culture, to bring meaningful transparency and accountability to how a company handles political spending.”

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