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Corporations do the darnedest things.

In a recent Indy cover story on corporate electioneering ("Money talks," Jan. 12), we looked at American Tradition Partnership, a secretive Colorado group that quietly channels corporate money into conservative political coffers. "The only thing we plan on reporting is our success to contributors like you ... " ATP promises donors. "You can just sit back on election night and see what a difference you've made."

In many ways, political slush funds take the existing corporate model to its logical conclusion. By definition, traditional corporations are profit-driven entities, so much so that directors can be sued for making a decision based on anything other than maximizing profits.

But even as American Tradition Partnership prepares to go before the U.S. Supreme Court — in a case that might well impact the controversial Citizens United decision — a growing "benefit corporation" movement aims to give corporate personhood a makeover.

Back in December, New York became the seventh state to pass legislation allowing corporate directors to factor social and environmental concerns into the decision-making process. Similar legislation being introduced in the Colorado General Assembly could make this state next.

In an ideal world, benefit corporations would simply offer a less secretive, more socially benign way of doing business. This week's cover story, beginning here, considers how that may play out in real life.


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