Tag Archives: corporate behavior

Money And Trust

A number of people who regularly comment on this blog have repeatedly expressed contempt for the very wealthy CEOs who exercise disproportionate power in our current political environment. I share their disapproval of the systemic flaws that facilitate that influence, but I am unwilling to throw all rich people into the “deplorable” basket.

Just like all minority groups–blacks, Jews, Muslims, LGBTQ folks–the rich are a mixed lot, so I was interested to see a MarketWatch report that looked at personal political contributions by the nation’s CEOs. 

Let me concede right now that the observation I’m about to share is probably unfair. But I’ll share it anyway: the corporate executives that I have previously thought to be honorable have been giving to Democrats during this election cycle. Those who’ve been demonstrably less-than-upright tend to be found in the “donating to Republicans” column.

Warren Buffett gave 100% of his donations to Democrats; Timothy Sloan–who heads up scandal-ridden Wells Fargo–gave to Republicans.

Tim Cook of Apple made only one contribution, to a Democratic candidate for Congress. Jamie Diamond of JPMorgan also made only one contribution–to Orrin Hatch.

I am compelled to admit that the totals donated do tend to support the previously-referenced expressions of contempt for America’s plutocrats. These particular CEOs gave 2,632,234 to Democrats, and a whopping 7,438,781 to Trump’s GOP.

MarketWatch’s analysis found that among the CEOs who did contribute to party-affiliated committees, nearly all leaned heavily blue or red, with few donating equally to the two main parties. More than 84% of the 261 CEOs who contributed to partisan committees donated 70% or more of their money to one party or the other. And about 100 of the CEOs spent above the median amount and contributed 75% of their money to one party.

The behavior of these executives when they are spending their own money is interesting, because corporate PACs mostly spread their money around, presumably in an effort to buy influence on both sides of the political aisle. The study by MarketWatch found that executives within the “corporate elite” tend to donate their personal funds based on ideology rather than strategy.

The chart accompanying the article is interesting. I am not familiar with most of the corporations listed, but I have a very good impression of Salesforce, a company which has become one of Indianapolis’ best corporate citizens since locating here a few years ago. And I’ve upgraded my impression of Netflix…

In the 2018 election cycle, two Silicon Valley bosses — Netflix Inc.’s NFLX, +2.43% Reed Hastings and Salesforce.com Inc.CRM, +1.46% co-CEO Marc Benioff — stand out for contributing only to individual Democratic candidates’ committees or groups tied to the Democratic Party, as shown in our chart, which is based on itemized filings with the Federal Election Commission. Hastings donated $571,600, making him the biggest spender among partisan outliers who favor Democrats, while Benioff gave $188,900. The chart shows the CEOs who were both the most partisan in their outlays and contributed the most money overall (more than $90,000 in partisan donations). Netflix and Salesforce declined to comment.

“A lot of the immigration concerns that tech companies have are going to push them in the direction of supporting Democrats,” said Sarah Bryner, research director for the Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign-finance watchdog. “They’re worried about their employee base.” Tech companies, which often employ highly skilled newcomers to the U.S., have voiced opposition to the GOP’s efforts to restrict immigration.

Or maybe they are just appalled by Trump and his takeover of the GOP.

As I say, probably not a totally fair analysis of this particular data. But interesting.