I am sure that you have heard, over and over, that “the managers of corporations have a fiduciary duty to maximize corporate profits.” This means that when they use corporate resources it must be for the purpose of increasing the profits of the company. Any other use violates their responsibilities to the company.
The Supreme Court ruled today that corporate executives will be allowed to use corporate resources to influence our elections, even placing advertisements asking voters to vote for or against candidates, with no limit on the amounts spent.
But corporate executives can only spend company funds with the expectation that the elected candidate will then act in their official capacity to further the profits and interests of that corporation. There is no other reason that executives can use corporate resources to influence elections, except with the expectation that the company will profit if and when the candidate is in office.
So read what federal law says about giving something of value with the intent of influencing an official to act.
18 U.S.C. § 201 : US Code – Section 201: Bribery of public officials and witnesses
(b) Whoever –
(1) directly or indirectly, corruptly gives, offers or promises anything of value to any public official or person who has been selected to be a public official, or offers or promises any public official or any person who has been selected to be a public official to give anything of value to any other person or
entity, with intent –
(A) to influence any official act; …
shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than two years, or both.
It is illegal to provide something of value with the intent of influencing official acts. Obviously campaign ads are “something of value.” And obviously the corporate executives are using corporate resources to influence the election with the expectation of influencing official acts for profit. Since corporate executives are violating their responsibilities to the company if they place campaign ads without the expectation that they are influencing official acts – which is bribery under the law – the only circumstances where a corporation does what the Supreme Court allowed today would be a violation of this federal statute. They can’t use corporate funds to promote good government, help the CEO’s friend get election, or any other reason except to make the company make money.
Did the Supreme Court overturn our bribery statutes?
It seems to me an opportunity for the Atty General to announce that the executives of any companies placing ads for a federal candidate will be given a choice of prosecution for attempted bribery or a shareholder suit for squandering company funds. They get to say whether they intended to influence official acts and be prosecuted, or were not trying to influence official acts and will be surd for misuse of corporate resources — theft.