Top U.S. business executives say major political contributors such as themselves wield too much political influence.

A new poll of company leaders shows that 75 percent of them regard political giving as “pay-to-play,” and even more said they would like the campaign-finance system vastly improved or completely rewritten.

Almost 90 percent favor limiting how much money individuals, corporations and outside groups can spend for political purposes during an election. The survey also found wide support for a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring all publicly traded companies to disclose to shareholders all of their political expenditures

“There’s an impression that there is money being used to buy politicians, and that therefore they are not beholden to the electorate but to donors,” said Steve Odland, president and chief executive officer of the Committee for Economic Development and a former CEO of Office Depot Inc.

The committee’s online survey of 302 executives was conducted May 29 to June 3 jointly by Democratic polling firm Hart Research and Republican pollster American Viewpoint. The Committee for Economic Development, a nonprofit business policy group based in Washington, released the survey today as part of its push for more disclosure in campaign finance.

Chamber Objection

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce objected to the survey’s findings, sending a lawyer to the Committee for Economic Development’s event today at the National Press Club in Washington. The business trade group criticized the poll as unscientific and agenda-driven, invoking the name of a billionaire Democratic donor whose nonprofit Open Society Institute has provided funding for CED programs.

“This survey is not representative of the business community and given that George Soros is contributing to the organization conducting it, the results should not be surprising,” said Blair Latoff Holmes, a Chamber spokeswoman, in an e-mailed statement. “The Chamber and its members understand that the real goal of the so-called disclosure push is to limit or remove altogether the business voice from the political and policymaking process.”

CED’s survey of executives was funded by the Omidyar Network Fund Inc., a nonprofit established by EBay Inc. co- founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife.

2012 Money