HCA

Shareholders of HCA Healthcare, the Nashville-based for-profit operator of health care facilities, are asking for more transparency regarding the company’s political spending and lobbying, though board members are opposed to the move.

Shareholder John Chevedden, a self-proclaimed “shareholder activist,” is asking HCA to produce a bi-annual report disclosing direct and indirect contributions made to political candidates and other political endeavors, as well as policies and procedures around those decisions. This would include the names of the recipients and the amount given, as well as the title of the person in the company responsible for the decision.

HCA’s board of directors released a response urging shareholders to vote against this proposal, saying it’s in the best interest of the company to be an “effective participant in the political process.”

“The Board believes the expanded disclosure requested in this proposal could place HCA Healthcare at a competitive disadvantage by revealing our strategies and priorities,” the board said.

Chevedden claims that HCA has contributed nearly $2.5 million to candidates since the 2010 election cycle. Federal political candidates are already required by federal law to disclose the identity of donors, including corporations. However, Chevedden’s proposal would encompass more general political spending that is not always so easily tracked.

“Without knowing the recipients of our company’s political dollars, HCA directors and shareholders cannot sufficiently assess whether our company’s election-related spending aligns or conflicts with its policies on climate change and sustainability,” Chevedden wrote to fellow shareholders.

Additionally, Kurt Freeman, on behalf of shareholder Graphic Communications Benevolent Trust Fund, requested an annual report disclosing company policy involving lobbying, as well as the recipients and amounts of donations to lobbying organizations. The company already discloses some political and lobbying activities in annual reports and other public filings.

Shareholders will consider the proposals at the April 21 annual meeting.