Qualcomm, Settling Lawsuit, Discloses More Than $3 Million in Political Spending

Qualcomm Inc. today disclosed donations to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other tax-exempt groups that, together with contributions to political entities, totaled almost $3.2 million in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.

The San Diego-based maker of communications microchips revised its policy on disclosing political spending to settle a lawsuit,  Bloomberg’s Phil Milford reports. The company voluntarily itemized the money it gave trade groups and other tax-exempt organizations, and posted a list of the donations on its website.

In January, New York Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli brought a suit on behalf of the state’s public employee retirement fund to determine whether Qualcomm’s contributions were in the best interest of shareholders.

Companies typically aren’t required to disclose donations to tax-exempt organizations — even though some of the groups, such as the Chamber, participate in election politics.

Qualcomm’s founder, Irwin Jacobs, is a major Democratic donor. For the 2012 elections, he gave $2 million to a super-political action committee dedicated to helping President Barack Obama win re-election and $200,000 to other Democrat-friendly super-PACs, according to the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics.

His son, Paul E. Jacobs, the chief executive officer and chairman of Qualcomm, gave $5,000 to Obama’s campaign in 2011. In recent years, Paul Jacobs contributed $40,800 to the Democratic National Committee and gave thousands more to state party committees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

“Increased transparency for election-related activities by corporations is very beneficial,” Paul Jacobs said in a joint statement with DiNapoli.

Qualcomm’s contributions to political candidates and tax-exempt groups show a bipartisan approach.

Its top gift of $1 million went to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonprofit group in Washington that has been pushing Congress to reduce the federal deficit. The Chamber of Commerce, which tends to give money Republicans, received $385,000 from Qualcomm.

The company invested $78,000 in California state candidates and political groups, and $161,000 in federal races while giving nothing to super-PACs. Those kinds of donations were already public because they were reported to the Federal Election Commission.

“Qualcomm’s disclosure policy sets a high standard,” DiNapoli said in the joint statement. “The company deserves praise for its actions.”

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