American Express Company believes that active engagement in the public policy arena is an important part of responsible corporate citizenship and is vital to the democratic process.
Public policy issues are constantly being debated around the globe. The key players in those debates vary depending on the issue. For example, they can be members of a legislative body, executive branch officials or their staff, and regulatory authorities. As a large publicly traded company, the outcomes of these debates can impact our revenues, expenses, employee relations, taxation, and many other aspects of our business. We identify in our Form 10-K and our Lobbying Disclosure Act filings the public policy issues that can significantly impact aspects of our business. Illustrative areas that we have identified include consumer financial and protection laws and regulations, merchant and network regulations, privacy and data security policy initiatives and prudential banking regulations. The timing of a government's action can range from imminent to years in the future. We both monitor the issues and public policy debates and engage with government officials at various levels throughout the world in order to provide our perspective. We also work with trade and industry associations in the United States in support of our public policy initiatives.
Our government affairs team coordinates with colleagues across our business to assess the potential impact of public policy issues in order to prioritize and determine the appropriate level of engagement. Our government affairs team works with our business executives to periodically review and evaluate key public policy issues for our company globally. We brief our Board of Directors, through its Public Responsibility Committee (PRC), on our process to identify the issues on which we engage and we regularly update the committee on the public policy issues of importance to our company and where we have chosen to engage with government officials.
In addition to the Company's advocacy efforts, American Express participates in the political process through the American Express Company Political Action Committee (AXP PAC) and through corporate political contributions in those jurisdictions where it is permissible to do so. American Express does not spend corporate funds directly on electioneering communications, and it publicly discloses as detailed below any contributions to another organization that are used in connection with a political campaign.
The Company maintains comprehensive compliance procedures to ensure that its activities are conducted in accordance with this policy, the Company's Code of Conduct and all relevant laws governing political contributions and lobbying activities. Procedures include employees' annual review and acknowledgment of their Code of Conduct responsibilities as well as periodic reviews conducted by an outside law firm and internal audit.
The Company regularly files reports with the Secretary of the U.S. Senate and the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives detailing its lobbying activities. Copies of these filings are available online by searching American Express Company as "registrant name." In addition, the Company files all state and local lobbying registrations and reports required by law. These filings are a matter of public record and are available online at each state's website. In calendar 2015, the company disclosed (1) $1,640,000 in U.S. Federal lobbying expense and (2) $3,310,000 in lobbying expense at the U.S. State and local level.
American Express Company Political Contributions
Federal election law allows corporations to establish political committees, which may make contributions to federal candidates, state candidates (as permitted by law) and other committees. Established more than 25 years ago, the AXP PAC is supported solely by voluntary contributions from American Express employees. AXP PAC is regulated by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). AXP PAC files regular reports with the FEC and the relevant State election commissions on its receipts and disbursements. Reports filed with the FEC are available online to the public.
American Express makes political contributions as permitted under
federal, state and local laws, without regard for the private political preferences of the Company's executives, to help elect candidates whose views and
positions are good for the Company, our industry, and ultimately the
free-market economy. Political contributions are made by the AXP PAC or
by corporate funds, where permitted. AXP PAC contributions as well as
corporate political contributions are made based on a variety of factors
- The candidate's views on issues of importance to American Express;
- The candidate's position on a committee with jurisdiction over policy issues important to American Express;
- The candidate's representation of a state or district where American Express has an employee presence; and,
- The candidate's elected leadership position.
AXP PAC does not contribute to presidential campaigns.
Decisions regarding individual AXP PAC contributions are made principally by the Company's senior vice president, government affairs, under the oversight of the Board of Directors of AXP PAC. Corporate political contributions are determined principally by the Company's vice president, state government affairs.
The Company reports regularly to the American Express Company Board of Directors' Public Responsibility Committee (PRC) regarding its engagement in the public policy arena and its fundraising activities and political contributions.
Trade and Industry Associations
Trade and industry associations offer a variety of benefits including monitoring industry policies and trends, providing industry and market expertise, and advancing the Company's public policy interests. Some of these associations engage in lobbying on behalf of their members. American Express provides to the trade and industry associations our view on public policy issues. However, we recognize that Company participation in trade and industry associations does not mean that the Company agrees with every position a trade or industry association takes on an issue. The Company evaluates its memberships in trade associations to ensure that they serve the long-term interests of the Company.
American Express requests information regarding political contributions from trade associations, entities organized under section 501(c) 4 of Internal Revenue Code (Code), and other tax exempt organizations of which American Express is a member that engage in non-deductible lobbying and political expenditures under Code section 162(e). For any such organization that receives in excess of $50,000 for dues during the calendar year from the Company, American Express requests that the organization identify the portion of American Express' payments used, if any, in connection with participation or intervention in a political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any ballot initiative or candidate for public office, as defined under Subsection 162(e)(1)(B) of the Code. American Express includes in its political contributions report on our website any amounts reported to us that were used for such purposes.
Each trade and industry association is required to identify the portion of dues or payments made that are used for lobbying purposes (and thus non-deductible lobbying expenditures under section 162(e) of the Code). A list of the principal U.S. trade and industry associations to which we paid annual dues of $50,000 or more in the most recent fiscal year and the portion of the dues used for lobbying purposes is provided in the political contributions report.
American Express Company Political Contributions Report
Jan-Jun 2016 report [PDF]
Jul-Dec 2015 report [PDF]
Jan-Jun 2015 report [PDF]
Jul-Dec 2014 report [PDF]
Jan-Jun 2014 report [PDF]
2013 report [PDF]
2012 report [PDF]
2011 report [PDF]