2014 Congressional Report Card on Corporate Accountability
This is the third edition of the Corporate Accountability Coalition’s Congressional Report Card. The CAC Report Card Represents an effort to measure Congress’s commitment to keep the power of large corporations in check, to promote transparency and responsible business practices, and to hold corporations accountable for their actions.
Corporations are an important part of modern life and the modern economy, but their interests do not always represent the interests of living, breathing human beings. This Report Card attempts to serve as an objective measure of Congressional efforts to ensure that protecting people, not corporations, is the primary focus of our laws and policy.
Little progress on corporate accountability was made in 2014, despite increasing corporate influence over public institutions and private lives. Incidents of corporate malfeasance harmed the lives of real human beings, while those responsible faced insufficient accountability. Courts, legislators, and regulators continued to make it more difficult to hold corporations accountable for their actions, often favoring corporate freedoms over those of real people. There were bright spots, however; although Congress failed to pass meaningful legislation to rein in corporate power and promote accountability, more accountability-oriented bills were introduced, and one significant measure was supported by a majority of senators.
In 2014, instead of undoing the damage caused by Citizens United, the Supreme Court took “corporate personhood” one step further by giving religious rights to corporations. The decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., which allows for-profit corporations to refuse to follow certain regulations under the Affordable Care Act based on their religious beliefs, could open the door for companies to challenge a number of laws on religious grounds. In another decision, the Court held that some companies are “too big to be sued.” In Daimler AG v. Bauman, the Court allowed a corporation profiting from the substantial activities of its subsidiary, Mercedez-Benz USA, to enjoy the protections of California law without accountability to the California justice system, based solely on the fact that Daimler does more business somewhere else.
This Report Card will continue to monitor the actions of our elected representatives in Congress, reminding them that they represent human beings, not corporations. We hope it motivates members of Congress to make greater efforts to protect the rights and interests of the people by placing limits on how corporations can behave, reining in corporations when they attempt to go beyond those limits, and making corporations accountable when they disregard those limits. This is not just good for people—it is good for responsible American businesses, that suffer when irresponsible corporations are allowed to gain advantages from wrongdoing.
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Legislation that the CAC is following for the 2015 Report Card
The following measures are being followed and will be scored in the 2015 Report Card, if they cross the minimum co-sponsor threshold.
- Government Settlement Transparency and Reform Act (S. 413)
- A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to clarify the authority of Congress and the States to regulate corporations, limited liability companies, and other corporate entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state (S.J. Res. 7)
- Corporate Crime Database Act (H.R. 102)
- Corporate Politics Transparency Act (H.R.418)
- Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (H.R. 624)
- Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to clarify the authority of Congress and the States to regulate the expenditure of funds for political activity by corporations (H.J.Res. 36)
- Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to clarify the authority of Congress and the States to regulate corporations, limited liability companies or other corporate entities established by the laws of
- any State, the United States, or any foreign state (H.J. Res. 23)
- Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States providing that the rights extended by the Constitution are the rights of natural persons only (H.J. Res. 48)