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May 09, 2011

PRSA Comments on Ethical Implications of Political Front Groups in a New York Times Letter to the Editor

PRSA had a letter to the editor of the The New York Times published May 8, 2011, in response to a May 1 editorial that called for greater transparency and disclosure by corporations engaging in political speech. 
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Letters: Corporate Donors
Published: May 8, 2011

To the Editor:
The headline of your May 1 editorial, “Some Sunshine for the Campaign Jungle,” perfectly summarized the need for greater transparency and disclosure from corporations and politicians in an era of waning trust and credibility for both.
 
You rightly note that “taxpayers have a right and need to know what favors are being curried.” Furthermore, the public deserves to know the identity and motivating factors of corporate donors, including the formation and use of unethical front groups to sway politicians in their favor, since these groups have the ability to outmaneuver and outspend the average American voter.
 
In a country built upon the very essence of free speech, we must be careful not to vilify those businesses that legally and ethically take advantage of their newfound freedom of speech. Equally important, however, is the need for businesses to ensure that their campaign contributions do not usurp Americans’ right to truthful, accurate and open communication, which is essential for informed decision-making in a democratic society.
 
Only full disclosure can restore historically low trust in politicians and corporations, while ensuring that Americans don’t get lost amid the “campaign jungle.”
 
ROSANNA M. FISKE
Chairwoman and Chief Executive
Public Relations Society of America
New York, May 3, 2011
 
A version of this letter appeared in print on May 8, 2011, on page WK7 of the New York edition with the headline: Corporate Donors.
 
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