November 06, 2020

Corporate Contributions

Corporate Contributions

Corporate Political Activity: Providing Transportation and Related Travel Expenses to Members of Congress
      Thomas J. Schwarz, Alan G. Straus, and Carol C. Darr, 41(1): 15–27 (Nov. 1985)
Politically active corporations may achieve valuable political exposure by providing transportation (for example, through the use of corporate aircraft) and related travel expenses to members of Congress and candidates for federal elective office. Detailed rules and regulations of both congressional houses restrict the manner in which such transportation may be provided or in which such expenses may be paid, and the regulations administered by the Federal Election Commission contain similar restrictions. Members of Congress and their employees may not receive gifts aggregating $100 or more in value during any calendar year from a person with a direct interest in legislation before Congress. Travel and related expenses provided for activities related to an officeholder's official duties, such as fact-finding tours, or in return for which the member provides equal consideration may generally be accepted, subject to disclosure regulations. Use of corporate aircraft in a federal election campaign generally requires reimbursement of the cost of comparable commercial service.

Giving at the Office: A Reappraisal of Charitable Contributions by Corporations
      R. Franklin Balotti and James J. Hanks, Jr., 54(3): 965–96 (May 1999)
In the flush of a booming economy, the recurring question of individual and corporate philanthropy has reemerged as an issue of public policy, academic debate, and corporate practice. The purpose of this Article is to formulate a coherent framework with which to regulate corporate charitable giving. Altruistic corporate charitable giving is permitted under the current law of most, if not all, jurisdictions. This legal rule is supported by national social policy and accepted social norms. This Article suggests a method of reconciling such a rule with traditional profit-maximization rules and also suggests rules for dealing with charitable contributions that actually provide some benefit to the corporation as well as charitable contributions to a pet charity of a corporate manager or that personally aggrandize the manager.

Corporate Charity: An Oxymoron?
      Nell Minow, 54(3): 997–1005 (May 1999)
The business judgment rule gives corporate managers and directors a great deal of deference in making business decisions, so long as they are made in good faith to create shareholder value. This standard may be too forgiving, however, when it comes to charitable contributions, which have a greater potential for conflicts of interest and a smaller capacity to measure results. Corporate charitable contributions should be evaluated as marketing or advertising expenditure and should be fully disclosed to shareholders to minimize the potential for conflicts of interest.

Disclosure of Corporate Charitable Contributions as a Matter of Shareholder Accountability
      Paul E. Gillmor and Christopher M. Bremer, 54(3): 1007–22 (May 1999)
Current law does not require corporations to disclose to shareholders how much and to whom management gave to charity from shareholder assets. As an increasing number of Americans take advantage of corporate ownership to secure their financial goals, they assume a greater role in responsible and judicious charitable giving. There is no justification for denying shareholders information as to what management is doing with their money, and a reasonable disclosure requirement is therefore a matter of accountability.

Profound Change: The Evolution of ESG 
     A Discussion Among E. Christopher Johnson, Jr., John H. Stout, and Ashley C. Walter, 
75(4): 2567-2608 (Fall 2020)
This article has been abstracted from a series of telephone conference discussions among E. Christopher Johnson, Jr., John H. Stout, and Ashley C. Walter, each of whom has chaired committees of the Business Law Section and served as a member of the Council. The discussion focused on the evolution, meaning, and critical importance of the ideas, meanings, and principles embodied in the terms “sustainability,” “CSR” (corporate social responsibility), and ESG (environment, social, and governance). The discussion began before the novel coronavirus and the killing of George Floyd impacted our lives—our country’s and the world’s social, political, and economic well-being and order. The discussion and preparation of this article was heavily influenced by these events as they forced not only an examination of the history of the above terms but also a reflection on their application to, and relevance for, strategically charting a path forward.