The Effects of Political Donations on Business

This article discusses the indirect costs businesses can pay when executives financially endorse a candidate.

Mr. Perenchio raised at least $400,000 for Mr. Bush and the Republican Party for this year's election.. He is also listed among the country's largest political donors, giving $4 million to the Progress for America Voter Fund, a 527 committee supporting the Bush campaign, according to PoliticalMoneyLine, a nonpartisan organization that tracks campaign finance. And in California, he has given millions to causes and candidates over the years, supporting Republicans like Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Democrats like former Gov. Gray Davis and ballot issues of all kinds.

But Mr. Perenchio's political largess, heaped heavily upon Republicans and to a lesser extent on Democrats, has sometimes created problems for Univision, providing ammunition that competitors and critics have used to attack the company. In a merger last year before the Federal Communications Commission, an agency controlled by Republicans, his contributions factored prominently into a lobbying campaign by opponents that helped stall the deal for more than a year.

While Univision officials say that Mr. Perenchio's contributions are his own, not the company's, and that he evaluates each candidate and cause on merit, his experience shows how delicate political donations can be for a large company.

"There are times I wish he didn't give, but he's a citizen,'' said one Univision executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity to comply with a company policy. "He does what he wants to do. He's the quickest man with a pen. If you come in to see him and he likes you, you get money.

When I became an entrepreneur, I quit writing letters to the editor of the local paper.

Link via Barry Ritholtz.