Ford Motor – Report on Political Contributions (2008)
The shareholders of Ford Motor Corporation (“the Company”) hereby request that the Company provide a report, updated semi-annually, disclosing the Company’s:
- Policies and procedures for political contributions and expenditures (both direct and indirect) made with corporate funds.
- 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:
- An accounting of the Company’s funds that are used for political contributions or expenditures as described above;
- Identification of the person or persons in the Company who participated in making the decisions to make the political contribution or expenditure; and
- The internal guidelines or policies, if any, governing the Company’s political contributions and expenditures.
The report shall be presented to the board of directors’ audit committee or other relevant oversight committee and posted on the company’s website to reduce costs to shareholders.
As long-term shareholders of Ford Motor, we support policies that apply transparency and accountability in corporate spending on political activities. Such disclosure is consistent with public policy and in the best interest of the Company’s shareholders.
Company executives exercise wide discretion over the use of corporate resources for political activities. These decisions involve political contributions, called “soft money,” and payments to trade associations and related groups that are used for political activities. Most of these expenditures are not disclosed. The Company has contributed at least $300,000 since the 2000 election cycle. (Center for Political Accountability, http://www.politicalaccountability.net/files/TAFord12-13-06.pdf).
However, its payments to trade associations used for political purposes are undisclosed and unknown. 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. The result: shareholders, and in many cases, management do not know how trade associations use their company’s money politically. The proposal asks the Company to disclose its political contributions and payments to trade associations and other tax-exempt organizations.
Absent a system of accountability, company assets can be used for political objectives that are not shared by and may be inimical to the interests of the Company and its shareholders. Relying on publicly available data does not provide a complete picture of political expenditures. 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.