Verizon Communications, Inc. – Political Spending (2024)

Outcome: 6.40% voted in favor of the proposal

Cease Political Contributions Study


Former chief justice of the Delaware Supreme Court Leo Strine argued in the Harvard Business Review: “Because political donations are controlled by managers, and because no corporate stakeholders, including shareholders, base their relationship with a company on the expectation that it will use its entrusted capital for political purposes, corporate political spending cannot reflect the diverse preferences and views of those stakeholders. Even the classic justification that corporate donations maximize shareholder wealth is on shaky ground: Emerging evidence suggests that they can destroy value by suppressing innovation and distracting managers from more-pressing tasks.”

For example, a study of corporate political activity in the form of lobbying and PAC spending by S&P 500 companies from 1998 to 2004 found that it was strongly and negatively related to company value. This suggests that ceasing political spending does not necessarily put a company at a competitive disadvantage.

Furthermore, political contributions by one company can take the form of rent-seeking which may lead to externalities that weigh on other companies, taxpayers, and consumers – possibly slowing real overall economic growth. This may raise concerns for widely diversified investors who are more exposed to the prosperity of the broader economy and suggests that they should support a cessation of political contributions.

Increasingly, companies such as IBM, Nvidia, ADP, Boeing, Verisign, and fifteen others are adopting policies prohibiting contributions of political funds directly or indirectly to influence elections. And another 72 companies prohibited or restricted payments to either trade associations or 501(c)(4)s.

We believe Verizon has reputational risk as it has repeatedly been called out for political contributions which appear to be inconsistent with its corporate values. As was pointed out in 2022, Verizon recognized Women’s History Month by highlighting how “Verizon ‘focus[es] on breaking down bias and stereotypes while continuing progress on women’s equality and gender equality.’” But between 2016 and May 2022, Verizon reportedly contributed $901,150 to anti-abortion political committees.

Verizon claims it is “proud to foster an inclusive environment” and that it is “committed to LGBTQ+ equality across the board.” From January 2022 through May 2023 Verizon reportedly contributed $385,000 to anti-LGBTQ politicians.

We believe that business needs a healthy democracy, yet it appears that “Verizon has donated $123,000 to 54 different GOP election deniers.”

Given potential risks and potential negative impact on shareholder or portfolio value, the proponents believe Verizon should study a policy to refrain from using corporate treasury funds in the political process.

Resolved: The shareholders request that the board (at reasonable cost, within a reasonable time, and excluding confidential/proprietary information) commission, oversee, and publish an independent third-party study which examines the impact on the company, the sector, and American democracy of the company adopting a policy prohibiting the use of corporate or PAC funds for direct or indirect contributions to political candidates. The study should provide recommendations and potential next steps.

Quick Search

Filter proposals by issue type or company

Latest Shareholder Proposals