Apple Board Member Al Gore Faces Conflict of Interest Shareholder Proposal
Washington, D.C. – Today policy experts from the National Center for Public Policy Research are attending Apple’s annual shareholder meeting in Cupertino, CA to challenge board member Al Gore over an apparent conflict of interest between his personal investments in clean energy technology and the company’s climate change policy.
Tom Borelli, Ph.D., director of the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project will present a Conflict of Interest Report shareholder proposal (#4 in the proxy statement) submitted by the National Center, asking Apple to investigate if board member Al Gore violated the company’s Business Conduct Policy by encouraging the company to end its membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as part of an effort to pressure the trade group to stop opposing greenhouse gas regulations.
Gore’s significant personal investments in renewable energy and related technologies would have benefited from greenhouse gas regulations. In contrast, Apple does not have a business interest in emissions regulations.
“Shareholders have a right to know if Gore used his board position to end Apple’s membership in the Chamber as a means to cash-in on his personal investments in clean energy technologies. The dirty little secret in clean energy is you need government action to make money on your investment,” said Tom Borelli.
“Gore had the financial incentive and access as a board member, the only question remains was he the catalyst that drove Apple’s policy decision. Board members should represent shareholders interests, not their personal interests” added Tom Borelli.
Several companies, including Apple, ended their relationship with the Chamber in 2009 over the trade group’s aggressive opposition to the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill and EPA regulation of carbon emissions. However, unlike utilities Exelon and PG&E, who also ended their membership in the Chamber, Apple will not profit from emissions regulations.
“Beyond holding board members accountable to following Apple’s Business Conduct Policy, shareholders should be concerned about the long-term consequences of ending the company’s membership in the Chamber. The trade group actively promotes intellectual property protection, an issue that represents a core business risk for Apple,” said Deneen Borelli, fellow of the National Center–sponsored African-American leadership group, Project 21.
Currently, Apple is engaged in a trademark dispute with China over its iPad.
“Trademark protection and piracy are business risks to Apple and not climate change regulations. Addressing intellectual property matters through a trade association is an efficient way to address these issues in the international area,” added Deneen Borelli.
The National Center for Public Policy Research is an Apple shareholder.
The Apple shareholder meeting is being held today, February 23 at 10:00 am Pacific Time at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, CA.