Ford Motor Company – Report on Political Contributions (2009)
The shareholders of Ford (“Company”) hereby request that the Company provide a report, updated semi-annually, disclosing the Company’s:
1. Policies and procedures for political contributions and expenditures (both direct and indirect) made with corporate funds.
2. Monetary and non-monetary political contributions and expenditures not deductible under section 162 (e)(1)(B) of the Internal Revenue Code, including but not limited to contributions to or expenditures on behalf of political candidates, political parties, political committees and other political entities organized and operating under 26 USC Sec. 527 of the Internal Revenue Code and any portion of any dues or similar payments made to any tax exempt organization that is used for an expenditure or contribution if made directly by the corporation would not be deductible under section 162 (e)(1)(B) of the Internal Revenue Code. The report shall include the following:
a. An accounting of the Company’s funds that are used for political contributions or expenditures as described above;
b. Identification of the person or persons in the Company who participated in making the decisions to make the political contribution or expenditure; and
c. The internal guidelines or policies, if any, governing the Company’s political contributions and expenditures.
As long-term shareholders of Ford, we support transparency and accountability in corporate spending on political activities. These activities include direct and indirect political contributions to candidates, political parties or political organizations; independent expenditures; or electioneering communications on behalf of a federal, state or local candidate.
Disclosure is consistent with public policy, in the best interest of the company and its shareholders, and critical for compliance with recent federal ethics legislation. Absent a system of accountability, company assets can be used for policy objectives that may be inimical to the long-term interests of and may pose risks to the company and its shareholders.
Ford contributed at least $1 million dollars in corporate funds since the 2002 election cycle. (CQ’s PoliticalMoneyLine: http://moneyline.cq.com/pml/home.do and National Institute on Money in State Politics: http://www.followthemoney.org/index.phtml.)
However, relying on publicly available data does not provide a complete picture of the Company’s political expenditures. For example, the Company’s payments to trade associations used for political activities are undisclosed and unknown. In many cases, even management does not know how trade associations use their company’s money politically. The proposal asks the Company to disclose all of its political contributions, including payments to trade associations and other tax exempt organizations. This would bring our Company in line with a growing number of leading companies, including Pfizer, Aetna and American Electric Power that support political disclosure and accountability and present this information on their websites.
The Company’s Board and its shareholders need complete disclosure to be able to fully evaluate the political use of corporate assets. Thus, we urge your support for this critical governance reform.