FORTUNE -- While millions of unemployed struggle to keep hope, corporations shelled out millions on election attack ads last year. Individual companies are still not fessing up on how their millions were spent. What do they have to hide?
Maybe you don't find it disturbing that a health insurer might be using millions to fund ads for candidates favored by the gun lobbies. And, certainly, if you believe that companies should serve as executives' oversized piggybanks, you may not be too concerned with political spending issues. But if you think corporate accountability matters, a few company boards have some explaining to do.
Last week, the New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli filed suit in Delaware court asking for access to Qualcomm's (QCOM) books and records related to its political spending. Qualcomm has a very low 2012 score on the CPA-Zicklin Index of corporate political disclosure and accountability, with a zero in all disclosure categories except one.
Qualcomm told the comptroller's office in September 2012 that it would not provide the books and records New York had requested in August and then failed to follow through on an October agreement for limited disclosure reforms, according to the complaint filed last week. Yet despite all this, "Qualcomm was surprised by this lawsuit," a spokesperson wrote me in an email.
While shareholder proposals have been helpful, "the suit represents a significant development in pressing companies to disclose" their political spending, says Bruce Freed, president of the Center for Political Accountability (CPA), which produces the CPA-Zicklin index. More
Here's how smart companies are facing the doomsayers with great ideas and fearless moves.
By Geoff Colvin, senior editor-at-large
FORTUNE -- Gloom has become a menace. The drumbeat of distressing news -- Europe, the fiscal cliff, China -- is enough to rob anyone of hope. It's a nasty, insidious force that's undermining the native optimism that buoys up businesspeople everywhere.
Resist! The reality is that even in today's uncertain economy, some companies MORESep 18, 2012 5:00 AM ET
|Chrysler relents, agrees to recall 2.7 million Jeeps|
|Perils of moving to a no-tax state|
|Yahoo: 13,000 government requests for data|
|Stocks rally as Fed looms large|
|Why Apple's new MacBook Air is the ultimate road warrior's notebook|