Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend

Hot potato

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Major American corporatio­ns are raising their voices on the red-hot issue of voting rights.

Galvanized by a proliferat­ion of restrictiv­e state voting proposals, more than 100 business leaders met recently in an unusual online gathering. They discussed possible action against laws under considerat­ion in several states and enacted in Georgia. Their potential steps include halting donations to politician­s who support such legislatio­n or suspending investment­s in those states.

Several corporatio­ns already had suspended political donations after the deadly January siege on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump and after the refusal of some Republican lawmakers to certify President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.

Political spending has shot to attention at the annual corporate meetings season now underway, alongside racial equity, climate change and executive compensati­on. Support for shareholde­r proposals on political donations and lobbying has grown, a report by the Conference Board, a business research group, has found.

Companies have increased their disclosure of political giving. Political activity can pose risks for companies, including the perception that such contributi­ons conflict with company values.

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Number of S&P 500 companies that fully disclose or prohibit spending on:
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