It matters for legislators, shareholders and, of course, for the citizens of a democracy.
So, this recent Reuters headline, and its implications, should now resonate in American society:
“JP Morgan freezes donations to Republicans who contested 2020 election”
The Chase statement freezing support of anti-election-lawmakers is both transparent and consistent with its earlier policy.
Chase, the country’s largest lender, was among many companies that paused political giving after the January 6th insurrection and Republican members of Congress voted to overturn President Joe Biden’s election victory: “This was a unique and historic moment when we believe the country needed our elected officials to put aside strongly held differences and demonstrate unity.”
The Chase statement differs from other companies’ vague positions about “monitoring developments” and “proceeding on a case-by-case basis” (insurrection-by-insurrection)?
Moreover, it casts light on growing shareholder demands for more transparency, consistency, and action on corporate political spending, “On Voting Rights, it Can Cost Companies To Take Both Sides”.
“Investors are on alert for companies that take one position and make donations that support another.”
Key excerpt from this New York Times commentary:
“When it comes to politics, companies often say one thing while their money says another … But companies have never faced as much scrutiny over political spending as they do now … Investors are battling with corporate boards, filing shareholder resolutions that demand more transparency and accountability about political donations. Increasingly, they are winning.”
“‘It can’t be overstated how much the events of this year have put the focus of political spending’ said Shelley Alpern, the director of shareholder advocacy at Rhia Ventures, a social impact investment firm. ‘Something has changed palpably in the public’s and shareholders’ understanding.”
The Times article contends that the new emphasis on political spending in shareholder filings appears to be an organic extension of already well-established challenges to corporate boards on ESG (environment, social, governance) issues: “Disclosures about political spending are inextricably linked to E.S.G. issues, according to Allison Herren Lee, a commissioner at the Securities and Exchange Commission. They allow investors to test companies’ claims about support for climate-friendly policies or social justice issues and to hold corporate managers accountable before any associated risks materialize.”
On the twin existential voting issue for American democracy – the fire-hose introduction of voter suppression by Republican state legislators across the country – the news is distressing. In a stinging commentary last week, Democracy Docket Marc Elias wrote:
“What they … have still have not explained, is what they are actually doing to protect voting rights… this is because they are not doing much of anything…The state legislatures, however, …. are enacting laws. These laws are not aimed at how voters feel, but their right to participate in the democratic process and exercise the most fundamental right to vote… Our democracy is in peril. If business leaders want to be part of the solution, they need to start flexing their corporate muscle and actually do the work.
“If Big Businesses want to support voting rights and democracy, they should start supporting voting rights and democracy … The business community should publicly support these bills [For the People Act , John Lewis Voting Rights Act] and provide financial and strategic resources to ensure their passage. They should also pressure their trade associations to do the same.”
In a democracy, voting – by legislators, shareholders, company leaders and American citizens – matters.
All this voting matters – greatly.