Opinion | The Corporate Donors Behind a Republican Power Grab – by David Leonhardt – The New York Times

“Walgreens portrays itself as the friendly neighborhood drugstore. It gives flu shots to children, helps communities after storms, donates to charity — and makes feel-good advertisements trumpeting its various good deeds.

But Walgreens also has a tougher side, one you won’t see in those ads. To protect a tax break, the company has allied itself with Wisconsin’s brutally partisan Republican Party. That party is now in the midst of a power grab, stripping authority from Wisconsin’s governor and attorney general solely because Republicans lost those offices last month. The power grab comes after years of extreme gerrymandering, which lets Republicans dominate the legislature despite Wisconsin being a closely divided state.

Wisconsin’s Republicans really are trying to undo democracy. When I asked Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt — the political scientists who wrote the recent book “How Democracies Die” — about the situation, they agreed that the Wisconsin power grab was the sort of move their book describes. If it continues, it can lead to the breakdown of a political system.”

Is Exxon Conning Its Investors?  The New York Times Editorial

By The Editorial Board

Nov. 25, 2018, 195
Credit
Antonio Sortino
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CreditCreditAntonio Sortino

“In August, a lawyer for Exxon Mobil told a state court in Manhattan that New York’s attorney general should either sue the company for misleading investors about the impact of climate change on its finances or drop the case. “They should put up or shut up,” the lawyer, Theodore Wells Jr., said of a tangled case that had dragged on for more than two years. The weary judge, Barry Ostrager, agreed. “This cannot go on interminably,” he said.

Put-up time has arrived. Late last month, Attorney General Barbara Underwood filed a fraud lawsuit against the company. Exxon responded with a 38-page brief basically denying everything. And Judge Ostrager has set a trial date for October of next year.

Much can happen between now and then. But the judge’s decision to allow the case to proceed could provide a rare teaching moment that allows the public to see a powerful company grappling with the kinds of choices that all legacy fossil fuel companies will surely face in a carbon-constrained world.

The case is not a rehash of the copiously documented charge that Exxon had for years subsidized climate change denialist groups even as its own scientists were acutely aware of the dangers of global warming. That charge is partly what inspired Ms. Underwood’s predecessor, Eric Schneiderman, to begin investigating the company in the first place. But Exxon has since agreed that climate change is a problem, supported the Paris agreement and invested in cleaner fuels. Nor does the suit hold the company responsible for climate change, unlike several cases against the fossil fuel industry brought by New York City and other localities seeking damages from the rise of sea levels and other consequences of a warming world. Most of these suits have been thrown out of court.”

Why Dark Money Is Bad Business – The New York Times

Boston — IT’S only May, but this presidential election is on track to be one of the most expensive ever. So far two-thirds of election dollars have largely come from anonymous corporate donations, funneled through what have been referred to as “dark money” nonprofit groups that freely engage in electoral and legislative politics, but don’t have to disclose their donors, expenditures or even their members.One of the most promising strategies to stem the tide of corporate dark money is a proposed rule at the Securities and Exchange Commission that would require public companies to report the amounts and recipients of their political spending. The rule has received a groundswell of support from a bipartisan group of former S.E.C. commissioners, state treasurers and law professors, and has generated more than one million public comments.

Source: Why Dark Money Is Bad Business – The New York Times

The Quiet War on Corporate Accountability – The New York Times

“EVEN as the nation is gripped by the populist politics of the presidential primaries, special interests continue to shape the rules of the economy in the shadows. Last year, a market regulator called the Financial Accounting Standards Board released a proposal that could make it easier for corporations to withhold important financial information from shareholders. This could put the economy at greater risk of another huge accounting fraud, like Enron or Lehman Brothers. But the board’s proposal, which could become a final rule any day now, has gotten nowhere near the strong dose of sunlight it deserves.”

Source: The Quiet War on Corporate Accountability – The New York Times