In fact, Facebook is facing antitrust proceedings today to break into the company while its PAC is actively donating to lawmakers and other political groups.
The only other large U.S. corporations that don’t appear to be making direct political donations are Automatic Data Processing, Fortune Brands, Mettler-Toledo, MSCI, Ralph Lauren, Schlumberger, and Welltower, according to the Center for Political Accountability.
None of IBM’s policies prevent employees from making political contributions themselves. Mr. Watson and his son were active in politics and had friendships with presidents, including Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.
When corporate PACs emerged as a phenomenon in the 1970s, IBM reaffirmed its aversion to political giving. Company funds are also not directed to other types of 527 organizations that allow companies to direct money to candidates without giving it to specific people, or to “dark money” groups that campaign for influence without disclosing their donors.
“Our political actions are focused on issues, not candidates,” Frank Cary, CEO of IBM, told The Times in 1978. In fact, IBM spends millions of dollars annually on lobbying, running an in-house government relations team, and hiring outside companies to argue the company’s case through specific rules and regulations.
In other words, companies should have the freedom to “work the arbitrators” on issues that matter to them. But neither should they pay the referees.
While advocates of campaign funding reform have long sought to limit corporate PAC contributions, Washington was unwilling to reform itself. And why should it? And as far as businesses are concerned, PAC money gives them power and influence, so they have had little incentive to restrict themselves.