Cutting Risk by Disclosing Political Donations

In politics, it often pays to be ahead of the curve. That holds true for corporate governance too, even more so when politics enter the equation.

That is why a small number of the nation’s largest corporations have voluntarily agreed to report their share of trade association outlays that go to fund political activities. Together, these firms encompass a virtual who’s who in the microcosm of corporate America. In doing so, this corporate vanguard has yielded to pressure from shareholder activist groups that targeted them as prime candidates for greater accountability and transparency.

But this trend also reflects the altered political climate in Washington — a climate personified by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the liberal chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and an advocate of what he calls „shareholder democracy.”

„Some companies get it, some don’t,” said Bruce Freed, co-director of the Washington-based Center for Political Accountability, a nonprofit and non-partisan shareholder advocacy group that is playing a key behind-the-scenes role in orchestrating the recent run of voluntary disclosures. „The ones that don’t get it,” he added, „are headed for a (shareholder) proxy vote.”

Veterans’ advocates hit the Hill

A group advocating the rights of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are on the Hill this week to press lawmakers on issues ranging from disability care to high rates of unemployment.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the largest organization for veterans of the wars, will host a series of events as a part of their Storm the Hill campaign this week, culminating in Thursday’s release of their legislative agenda for 2010.

Top priorities include improving the claims processing system for disabled veterans, addressing the suicide epidemic among service members and improving the Veterans Affairs Department’s health care services for women.

This is the fifth annual trip for the group, which was founded in 2004. Starting Monday, the veterans will form teams named for the military alphabet — Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, etc. — and will meet with more than 100 lawmakers to discuss their issues.

The veterans were originally scheduled to meet with Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), a Marine veteran of the Vietnam War, who died Monday.