How Leading U.S. Corporations Govern and Spend on State Lobbying

This project looks at how corporations oversee and govern money spent on corporate lobbying at the state level. It establishes a baseline for that spending by a representative sampling of the biggest U.S. publicly-listed corporations.

Alongside intense public and investor attention about corporate involvement in elections, institutional investors and others have increasingly called for more transparency about corporate lobbying expenditures designed to influence legislation and regulation. Since 2014, more than half the shareholder proposals at public companies which concern political activity have included requests for actions related to lobbying. Indeed, more than 40 percent of the shareholder proposals about corporate political activity disclosure have focused specifically on lobbying, rather than campaign contributions.

While considerable information is available about federal political spending, including lobbying, data are not available for all the states. Even where disclosure requirements do exist they are mixed in their comprehensiveness and utility. Disclosure requirements are missing entirely in 22 states.

This report explores what is known now, under current reporting rules, so that investors and the public can contemplate whether reforms are needed and if a more precise voluntary corporate lobbying disclosure code makes sense.