NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- JP Morgan Chase & Co. has agreed not to spend money on elections despite a landmark Supreme Court ruling allowing corporations to spend as much as they want on electioneering advertisements, Crain's New York Business reports today.
The bank did not trumpet its decision, instead it quietly updated its website to reflect the new policy, which was requested by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. Goldman Sachs Group Inc., IBM, Dell, Microsoft, Gilead and three other large corporations have already agreed to stay out of elections, according to Mr. de Blasio's website.
Early this year, the nation's high court lifted longtime restrictions on corporate spending in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, sparking fears in Democratic circles that big companies would invest huge sums in elections.
So far, corporations' efforts have been limited, although Target 's expenditures on behalf of Republican Tom Emmer, a candidate for governor in Minnesota, have sparked criticism and consumer protests there. Target might rethink its policy in the wake of that backlash, surmised Mr. De Blasio, a Democrat. But mine operator Massey Energy has indicated it will spend aggressively, notably in the Kentucky races for governor and U.S. Senate.
Mr. de Blasio called JP Morgan's decision "crucial" because it comes as 2010 U.S. House and Senate campaigns move into high gear. "The whole world is watching what's going to happen these next seven weeks," the public advocate said.
Democrats were concerned that financial services companies would run advertisements opposing the re-election of members of Congress who voted for sweeping reforms of financial regulation this summer. But the public advocate contends that corporate spending on elections is a bad idea for the companies themselves: "It's pledging the corporation to a political ideology. Shareholders and consumers don't want that from their corporations."
Mr. de Blasio broached the subject during discussions with JP Morgan on other matters in June, and the two sides began active negotiations in mid-August. "They were very receptive from the beginning," the public advocate said.
The company's website says, "In the Citizens United Case, the United States Supreme Court extended the ability of corporations to make independent campaign expenditures at the federal level. The firm has no plans to change our political contributions policies as a result of this decision."
JP Morgan will continue to lobby Congress and donate money to candidates through its political action committee, which is funded by voluntary contributions from company employees.