Bruce F. Freed of the Center for Political Accountability and Constance E. Bagley (a Senior Research Scholar in Law at Yale Law School) offer what purports to be friendly advice for corporate directors with regards to corporate political spending. But do not be taken in. This advice comes from folks with a partisan agenda. As The Center for Competitive Politics (a right-leaning, pro-free speech think tank) reports:
... those supporting CPA have shown little interest in promoting the maximizing of pro ts by corporations, and more o en view corporations as political and ideological adversaries that should be denied the right to speak out in the political process. is makes it difficult to accept that CPA’s true mission is to advance the interests of shareholders and improve returns for investors.
Nor are CPA’s leadership and activities neutral. Bruce Freed, the president and founder of CPA and a former Democratic congressional staffer, has worked closely with shareholding activists to push a particular policy agenda. As just one example, Mr. Freed joined Walden Asset Management in an August 2010 letter to corporations sitting on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s board, urging them to distance themselves from the Chamber because of its policy positions concerning global warming. Mr. Freed signed that letter in his role with CPA, and not in a private capacity. That letter had nothing to do with good governance, or political transparency: it was instead an attempt to in uence corporate behavior in a way which, regardless of its merits, is not fundamentally concerned with shareholder value or aimed at boosting investment returns.
CPA’s Associate Director, Valentina Judge, previously worked as a Research Analyst at the Service Employees International Union. CPA’s General Counsel is Karl Sandstrom, a former counsel to the Democratic National Committee who chaired the Department of Labor Administrative Review Board under President Clinton. CFO Michael P. Novelli served as Maryland coordinator for Senator John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. CPA Staff Associate Aaron Stanley joined CPA from the Government Accountability Project, a non-pro t funded by George Soros and other foundations and founded to “promote... corporate accountability by protecting whistleblowers.” CPA’s Editor, Peter Hardin, also works for Justice at Stake, a Soros-funded non-profit that has been highly critical of business efforts to promote state-level tort reform and involvement in judicial elections. His web site states that his purpose is “to use the power of story telling for social change.”
Nothing is inherently wrong in any of these activities or beliefs. But it should be clear that while CPA claims to represent a considered approach to maximizing shareholder value, it in fact supports a partisan ideology, and seeks to enlist corporate support for particular political causes.