The Ethics of Corporate Political Spending

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In a recent blog post on The Hill calling for the SEC to adopt a new rule on disclosure of public companies’ political spending, the authors wrote:

If money from our business accounts is used for political spending, we’d better well know about it. It would be a sign of dangerously poor management if we did not. Yet, under current practice corporate funds can be spent in exactly this way, without the owners’ knowledge, at the largest public companies in America. [thehill.com]

Business & Society has published a new Special Issue: The Governance Challenges of Corporate Political Activity. In the article titled “Corporate Dystopia: The Ethics of Corporate Political Spending,” Miguel Alzola of Fordham University wrote:

This article is concerned with the moral permissibility of corporate political activities under the existing legal framework in the United States. The author unpacks and examines the standard case for and against the involvement of business in lobbying and electoral activities. And the author provides six objections against the standard arguments and proposes that the wrongness of corporate political activities does not have much to do with its BAS_v50_72ppiRGB_150pixWpotential social consequences but rather with nonconsequentialist considerations. The author’s ultimate aim is to make sense of the intuition that corporate political spending is morally objectionable. The author argues that his case against corporate political spending fares better than the standard case. What is wrong with the current system of regulation of corporate lobbying and campaign finance is that it is inconsistent with the principles of political equality and consent. By taking advantage of this unfair regulatory framework, business firms are making a contribution to undermine the basis of a robust democratic regime at both the societal and the corporate level.

Continue reading the article online in Business & Society, and browse the rest of the Special Issue here.

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Brian Patterson (@BrianSPatterson)

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