Breaking news: Exxon to dislose political donations, waffles on trade association pay-outs

A friend of DSBlog just sent this press release over:

ExxonMobil Agrees to Disclose Soft Money Political Contributions

SAN FRANCISCO, April 11 (AScribe Newswire) – ExxonMobil Corp. will disclose for the first time political contributions it makes with corporate funds, known colloquially as soft money , according to As You Sow, a nonprofit group promoting corporate social responsibility.

The group filed a shareholder proposal with the company on the issue. Confirming the new policy in its 2007 proxy statement released today, the world's largest integrated oil company said “an itemized listing of corporate contributions to candidates for public office and 527s at the state level is being added to our web site.” “527s” are groups allowed under the US tax code to influence election of candidates for public office.

The company's action followed the filing of a political disclosure shareholder proposal by As You Sow in 2006 and 2007. The resolution was co-filed in 2007 by Clean Yield Group of Greensboro, Vermont. ExxonMobil becomes the 32nd major company to agree to similar disclosure of political contributions as part of a shareholder campaign coordinated by the Washington, DC-based Center for Political Accountability.

“We are pleased that Exxon Mobil has agreed to adopt transparency and accountability on political contributions,” said Conrad MacKerron, Director of As You Sow's Corporate Social Responsibility Program. However, the proposal remains on the proxy because it also asked the company to disclose payments made to trade associations used for political activities, including those opposing government action to curb global warming.

The company has indicated it is not yet ready to agree to such disclosure, contending it would “increase competition among trade associations” for funding. “We disagree with that line of thinking,” said MacKerron. “We were willing to compromise and request that they only disclose the portion of trade associations funds used for political purposes, not a full itemization of membership dues.”

Several major corporations recently agreed to such disclosure. Aetna, DuPont, Pfizer, Xcel Energy, FirstEnergy and WellPoint have agreed to seek to obtain the information from trade associations about the portion of payments made to associations used for political and lobbying purposes. As You Sow filed the proposal on behalf of a shareholder client of RBC Dain Rauscher SRI Wealth Management Group (San Francisco) for the purpose of engaging the company on this issue. As You Sow is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting corporate social responsibility. It represents shareholders in engaging publicly held companies to adopt more progressive social and environmental policies. - - - -

CONTACT: Conrad MacKerron, 415-391-3212 x. 31 or mobile 510-761-7050


AScribe - The Public Interest Newswire / 510-653-9400

This is great news and a great step forward in full disclosure by the largest public company in the world. Recently, we saw ExMo attempt to soften it's image as a major global warming denier and discontinue funding some of the more outrageous third-party attack groups like the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

It will also be interesting to see how the ExMo soft money donations divide down party lines. I would guess a larger majority will have gone to the pro-freemarket Republicans. Among Republicans, it will also be interesting to correlate soft money activities with the level of energy any one individual politician put into attacking the science of global warming.

The odds-on favorite for most spent will no doubt be former chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, James Inhofe (R-OK) , who has repeatedly claimed that “global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.”


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