In 2013, the Business Roundtable — a nonprofit trade association for the nation’s leading CEOs and one of the country’s most powerful lobbying forces — made clear its stance on corporate political transparency.
"Corporations do NOT support increased political and lobbying 'disclosure,’” then-Business Roundtable President John Engler declared to Fortune 500 business leaders in a letter co-signed by U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue and National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons.
But the Business Roundtable’s hard line on corporations volunteering information about their political activities appears to have blurred — at least a bit.
In its latest “Principles of Corporate Governance” report, the Business Roundtable encourages corporate members to decide for themselves whether to publicly disclose political activities, such as contributing cash to so-called “dark money” nonprofit groups that aim to influence elections without revealing who funds them.
“To the extent that the company engages in political activities, the board should have oversight responsibility and consider whether to adopt a policy on disclosure of these activities,” reads the report, which echoes similarly pro-transparency statements the Business Roundtable made years ago.
Business Roundtable officials acknowledged the Center for Public Integrity’s request to explain the apparent change. But officials did not respond to repeated follow-up phone calls and emails seeking comment.