In the wake of criticism from watchdogs in general and some shareholders in particular over certain political contributions made by News Corporation in the 2010 cycle, the company announced that it would post its donations on its website this time. But one shareholder, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, wants to know about such things before the fact, not after, whether disclosed on the internet or not.
Typically, large corporations have used political donations in a very cagey way – they go to both parties, and often slant toward the one with the upper hand in Congress and/or the White House. Regardless of which party holds power, leaders in key committees and subcommittees are often made the beneficiary of donations regardless of party.
Large donations made by News Corp. to the Republican Governors Association and the US Chamber of Commerce are the eyebrow raisers that got the attention of NCF.
“The revised policy acknowledges the importance of the issue to shareholders and the need for reform in News Corp.’s practices,” said NCF President and CEO Lance E. Lindblom. “While we welcome these changes as a crucial first step in the right direction for News Corp., the new policy does not go far enough. The Board must provide oversight and complete transparency of the political spending process going forward.”
Also weighing in on the topic was Nick Nyhart, Executive Director of Public Campaign, who said, “Media conglomerate News Corp.’s decision to disclose its corporate donations to shareholders only after elections are over does little to nothing to address the growing problem of big money dominating American elections. Any casual observer of politics understands the bankruptcy in a policy that gives shareholders no say in decisions, retains secrecy around who makes contribution decisions, and discloses only once a year as far away from election day as possible. News Corp.’s policy provides an illusion of transparency where a floodlight is warranted. That this occurs in a corporation whose ostensible business is to provide the public with information defines the word ‘ironic.’ They should go back to the drawing board.”