Walt Disney might be known best for sunny characters like Mickey Mouse, but that doesn't mean it's opposed to a little dark political skullduggery on the side. Disney is worst among big American corporations in terms of political transparency, according to the D.C.-based nonpartisan Center for Political Accountability.
That means Disney is pouring millions into political campaigns around the country, the authors say -- and they aren't really interested in telling you who they're buying off or why, thank you very much.
The Walt Disney Company, which owns Disney World in Orlando, employs 58,000 people in Florida, making it one of the state's largest single employers, according to disneybythenumbers.com.
Disney admits it funneled $3.6 million into local and state campaigns last year, but doesn't clarify where that money went, today's report says.
That number is only likely to climb in years to come thanks to the Supreme Court's Citizen United case, the much-derided decision finding that corporations are actually people with first-amendment rights that can't be infringed upon with campaign financing rules.
"Political spending is expected to shatter records in the upcoming election year, and the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision means companies are facing more pressure than ever to engage politically," said CPA President Bruce Freed in their press release. "Secret campaign cash already has begun pouring in to campaigns. Investors and the public need to know how companies are handling the heightened risk."
Today's report relies on information that is publicly available on the company's web sites and is based on 29 indicators.
Key indicators include: disclosure of contributions to candidates and political parties and ballot measures; making archived political spending reports available online; and giving board oversight to political spending.
Disney received a zero in each category. They tied with a half-dozen other big firms for the distinction of the most opaque political givers, including Cisco, Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway.
Here's what Disney has to say, in general, about its political donation policy:
"We contribute corporate funds to state and local political parties, candidates for state and local office, organizations that promote such candidates or positions on state and local issues," the company says. "Our contributions are made on the basis of our objectives and policy priorities and not on the basis of the partisan affiliations."
Disney did not respond to an email from Riptide seeking comment on today's report.
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