Five Virginia Corporations Among Most Transparent

Five Virginia companies — including the frequently criticized Dominion Energy and Altria Group — are included among the 57 transparency “trendsetters” in the 2018 CPA-Zicklin Index. The others include Northrop Grumman Corp., Capital One Financial, and Norfolk Southern Corp.

The Index benchmarks political spending disclosure practices and political spending policies of S&P 500 corporations. The ideal political spending policy, according to CPA-Zicklin, explains: (1) the company’s process for making contributions or expenditures to influence political and/or judicial campaigns; (2) how management and the board oversee such decisions; and (3) the public policy considerations that influence such decisions.

The Index is published by the Center for Political Accountability (CPA) and the Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Here’s how the Virginia companies rank on a percentile basis compared to other companies in the S&P 500:

Northrop Grumman — 97.1%
Capital One Financial — 95.7%
Altria Group — 94.3%
Norfolk Southern Corp. — 94.3%
Dominion Energy — 91.4%

After the first full year of the Trump administration and a Republican majority Congress, this year’s Index finds that large public companies are holding steady in disclosure and accountability regarding election-related spending, states the press release announcing this year’s results.

Now, if only CPA-Zicklin would start monitoring dark money in the non-profit sector, where billions of dollars spent to shape public opinion and public policy (though not elections) go largely unaccounted for. Here in Virginia, the Piedmont Environmental Council sets an extremely high bar for transparency, listing all major donors and the size (within a range) of their contributions, while the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club provides virtually no information about its funding sources at all. Other environmental and social-justice groups vary considerably in their transparency.

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2 responses to “Five Virginia Corporations Among Most Transparent”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    Well it’s a bit of shell game if they do not disclose ALL of their money. What good is 91% if the other 9% is going to dark money organizations or other nefarious purposes?

    These things are like sieves… where there are so many opaque ways to move the money that are not reported that claiming that you’re being “transparent” by disclosing SINE – is all but a joke.

    The only way to fix this is to totally ban all direct transactions and to require that each and every donation MUST go through a 3rd party escrow that will disclose it automatically. Any company that does not do that – the guy/gals who approved the illegal transaction – loose all their personal assets including their pensions. I guarantee if this was the law – politics and elections would change dramatically for the better.

    We simply are not serious about this.. it’s all a game.

  2. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    First time I’d ever seen this thing. These folks are asking companies to do several things which are not required by law or regulation, which is fine. I noted the score for my old employer – a goose egg. Not sure if all of those are “no” or “unknown” in its column. Other companies got zero. Easy to get a zero and still be in full compliance with the law, which says something about the law.

    It is not about how high a percentage of donations is disclosed. Dominion got marked down for three of four of more than 20 things tracked, some items which in my view don’t matter much. It does make donations with corporate funds, not just funds from employee-funded PACs (but not at the federal level I’m sure), and it does not take every single donation to its Board of Directors for approval.

    No, Larry, most are not serious about this.

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