Corporate Political Engagement
To meet Michigan’s energy needs and help the state’s communities thrive, CMS Energy and its principal subsidiary, Consumers Energy, are committed to providing safe, reliable and affordable energy related services. Fulfilling that promise daily requires active participation in the political process. Put simply, the company works to inform and help shape the debate on public policy and regulation that impacts its customers, shareholders and employees.
CMS Energy complies with all federal and state laws governing corporate political participation. In engaging in the political process, the company is committed to upholding its core values and adhering to the highest standards of ethical conduct. All contributions promote the interests of the company without political preference of executives.
The company’s political participation generally falls into three categories:
1. Employees for Better Government (EBG): The company’s state and federal political action committees — or PACs — give employees a voice in the political process. EBG is nonprofit, nonpartisan and governed by an employee-run steering committee that’s independent of the company’s officers and boards of directors. Participation in the PAC is voluntary and coercing or pressuring any employee to participate in or contribute to EBG is strictly prohibited.
The elected members of EBG’s Steering Committee review contribution requests and allocate qualified employee contributions to political and campaign committees as well as to specific candidate campaigns based on criteria that may include:
- Representation of a state or district where the company has a facility or large concentration of employees.
- Voting record or announced positions on issues important to the company.
- Demonstrated leadership on key committees of importance to our business.
- Current leadership or potential for legislative leadership.
For more information, please review CMS Energy’s Employees for Better Government bylaws, EBG’s state political contributions and EBG’s federal political contributions.
Contact the EBG Manager at (517) 788-0594 or by email at Megan.Mello@cmsenergy.com with any questions about the PAC.
2. Corporate political contributions: Federal and state campaign finance laws prohibit the company from making direct contributions to candidates and to national and state political parties for general campaign purposes. However, the company does make contributions for grassroots activities, issue advocacy, voter registration, and other activities consistent with federal and state law. The company is also permitted under Michigan law to make contributions to state and local ballot question committees. All corporate political contributions come from the company’s general funds and are not reflected in utility customer rates.
The company’s Board of Directors adopted, upon the recommendation of the Governance and Public Responsibility Committee, a resolution that authorizes the President and Chief Executive Officer of the corporation to approve expenditures for political purposes in amounts not to exceed $10,000 per expenditure; and the Senior Vice President of Governmental and Public Affairs of the corporation to approve expenditures for political purposes in amounts not to exceed $2,500 per expenditure. Any political expenditure over $10,000 requires prior approval of the Board of Directors, and all expenditures for political purposes are reported to the board on an annual basis. All political contributions are reviewed by Legal Counsel to ensure compliance with all applicable state and federal laws. Our political contributions made during the year were all made in compliance with corporate policies.
In addition, the company pays membership dues and provides other financial support to trade organizations. CMS Energy and its affiliates disclose these payments when they exceed $25,000 and when the trade association uses a portion of the money for federal lobbying activities.
Portion Used for Political Purpose
|Edison Electric Institute
|American Gas Association
As required by federal law, the company discloses on its quarterly lobbying filing with the U.S. Congress those funds supporting federal lobbying activities of national trade associations.
To learn more, please review CMS Energy’s lobbying efforts related to the U.S. House of Representatives; CMS Energy’s lobbying efforts related to the U.S. Senate; Consumers Energy’s lobbying efforts related to state government; laws governing political activity at the federal level; and laws governing political activity at the state level.
3. Employee participation in political activity: The communities that the company serves are the backbone of its business. The company is committed to helping these communities succeed — not just with energy related services, but also with personal and corporate commitments. Every day, employees offer their time, talents and finances to support the places where they live and work.
The company is justifiably proud of the role its employees play in helping make the Michigan communities we serve great places to live and work, and encourages employees to participate in a wide range of civic activities. This includes employee participation in the political process. Employees must comply with all applicable legal, ethical and company requirements, including those set forth in the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA) of 2007. In general, employees are prohibited from conducting such actions during normal business hours or utilizing company resources.
Employees may campaign for public office or support others seeking office on non-work time, and may even secure reasonable time off to do so. The following conditions apply:
- Employees must obtain written approval from their supervisor before seeking election or appointment to a public office.
- If elected or appointed, employees must seek approval from their supervisor for reasonable time off without pay to fulfill those duties.
- To avoid conflicts of interest, employees elected or appointed to public office must excuse themselves from actions or decisions on issues that could impact the company.
Campaign finance laws and the regulation of political activity are complex. Employees must direct questions regarding political activity to their supervisor, the governmental affairs department, the legal department or the chief compliance officer.
To learn more, please review additional information on employee political engagement guidelines and the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA).
Updated June 2015