Comcast exercises its fundamental right and responsibility to participate in the political process. Participation in political activities is important to protect and achieve the business objectives of Comcast. It is also critical that all of our activities in this area display rigorous compliance with applicable laws and regulations. For this reason, Comcast's essential policy with respect to political activities is set forth in the Company's Code of Conduct. This statement provides additional information about the Company's implementation and compliance activities in connection with its political activities program.
Government Affairs, Lobbying and Trade Association Activity
The primary responsibility for implementation of Comcast's political activities rests with the Company's Government Affairs ("GA") organization, which ultimately reports to the Company's Senior Executive Vice President (a direct report to our Chairman and CEO).
The GA organization operates throughout the business footprint of Comcast and NBCUniversal, including in Washington, D.C. The GA organization's activities include development and advocacy of public policy, lobbying, membership in a variety of trade associations, participation in a number of intergovernmental associations and partnerships with other companies in the cable, broadcast, and film industries, and third party organizations on public policy issues of concern to the Company.
The trade organizations are principally composed of cable, broadcast, and film industry associations and are operated for the purpose of advancing the common goals and interests of the member companies and their customers. Participation in all trade associations is subject to approval by the Senior Executive Vice President, and reported to the Governance and Directors Nominating Committee of the Company's board of directors.
The Company's lobbying activity, undertaken directly and through participation in trade associations, is directed to influencing the wide variety of public policy issues that impact the Company's businesses. These issues include legislation and regulation relating to the distribution of video content over our cable plant, local, and state cable franchising laws and regulations, regulation of the Internet and high speed data services, regulation of the telephone industry, regulation of the broadcast and programming industry, privacy, piracy, copyright, certain international regulations, and a variety of general legislative and regulatory initiatives that affect Comcast as a business, including tax, labor, and workplace safety issues.
Political contributions are made from employee-funded political action committees ("PACs") that are sponsored by Comcast. The Comcast PACs are operated by a board of directors, chaired by the Senior Executive Vice President. When permitted by law, political contributions are also made out of corporate funds.
Comcast, either directly or through its employees, and Comcast's executive officers and directors, do not make independent expenditures, contribute to federal, state, or local political committees that only make independent expenditures (so-called "SuperPACs"), or contribute to any organization for the purpose of funding independent expenditures.
Additionally, Comcast does not support, and does not direct any of its employees and executive officers to support, other non-profits, such as 501(c)4 organizations, for the purpose of funding political activity, or unregulated 527 political organizations (entities that are not registered as PACs under state or federal campaign finance laws) for the purpose of funding political advertising. Prior to making a contribution to a 501(c)4 organization or unregulated 527 political organization, Comcast must receive written representations from such entity that Comcast's funds will be used in a manner acceptable to Comcast, including the fact that such funds (a) will not be used, directly or indirectly, to make contributions to candidate campaigns, political parties, other organizations registered as political committees, or SuperPACs, and (b) will not be used to make independent expenditures.
Finally, as mentioned above, Comcast is a member of a variety of trade associations that may devote a portion of their revenue, which may include a portion of the dues paid by Comcast, to support candidates or other political organizations. We have no direct control over how those expenditures are directed and in most cases are not even aware that such expenditures are made. In fact, we may not concur with the position of the organization on any given candidate or issue.
Please click here for an annual report of the Company's 2014 contributions to federal, state, and local candidates, political parties, political committees, other political organizations exempt from federal income taxes under Section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code, and ballot measure committees. Please note that we asked any trade association that the Company's GA organization authorized to receive $50,000 in calendar year 2014 to identify the portion of the Company's payments that were used for political contributions as defined by 26 U.S.C. Section 162(e)(1)(B). To the extent we were provided such information, we included it in this annual report.
Requests for corporate and PAC political contributions are made by members of the GA organization, or by business leaders of the Company through a member of the GA organization. All such requests are reviewed pursuant to a rigorous process and all contributions are ultimately approved by the Senior Vice President of Administration and/or the Senior Executive Vice President and reviewed by inside and/or outside legal counsel, as appropriate. No contribution has been or will be given in anticipation of, in recognition of, in return for, or otherwise linked to an official act.
The board of the PACs has adopted a set of criteria that guide all Company political contributions, including contributions from the PACs and legally permissible corporate contributions. These principles are strictly adhered to and include:
Comcast does not pressure or coerce employees to make personal political expenditures or take any retaliatory action against employees who do not.
The work of the GA team is regularly reported to senior management of the Company and to the board of directors. The Company's Senior Executive Vice President makes an annual report to the board of directors on the Company's political activities, including all political contributions. The Governance and Directors Nominating Committee of the board, composed entirely of independent directors, is responsible for overseeing the company's political activity and receives the annual report and periodically reviews this statement.
The Company complies with all applicable laws and regulations concerning political activities. We regularly consult inside and outside counsel to design and monitor our political activity compliance program.
All contributions are publicly disclosed as required by law, including disclosures required by federal law to the Federal Election Commission and comparable disclosure requirements in many states and localities. As outlined in the Code of Conduct, employees are prohibited from causing corporate or PAC contributions without pre-approval.
We lobby ethically, constructively and in a bipartisan manner, and we comply with all registration and reporting regulations related to our lobbying activities.
Additionally, employees are required to have gifts to, and entertainment of, government officials pre-approved.
Finally, no employee will be reimbursed directly or through compensation increases for personal political contributions or expenses.
The Governance and Directors Nominating Committee of the board receives periodic reports addressing the political activity compliance program.