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More companies publicly disclosing what they spend on politics, study finds

A rise in shareholder and consumer activism has prompted more companies to publicly disclose what they spend on politics.

Bruce Freed, president and co-founder of the Center for Political Accountability, said companies are doing it to insulate themselves from criticism at a time when politics has become more heated.

Freed’s center, along with the Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, recently released the annual CPA-Zicklin Index, a rating of how open, or not, major corporations are with the details of their otherwise hidden political spending.

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Though the PACs of businesses disclose their contributions to candidates, companies can keep hidden the money they give to outside groups, such as trade associations, that engage in electioneering.

Companies most open about such spending in 2019 included Google parent Alphabet, AT&T, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson and Visa.

The 2019 index featured the largest increase in companies with transparent policies, from 57 in 2018 to 73 this year.

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