September 19, 2019

General Electric Chooses Secrecy over Transparency

Press Release from the National Center for Public Policy Research:

GE Opposes Proposal Seeking Clarity on Its Controversial Charitable Contributions

Free Enterprise Project Resolution Criticizes GE Donations to Clinton Foundation, Planned Parenthood and Center for American Progress

Asheville, NC / Washington, DC   At today’s annual meeting of General Electric (GE) investors held in Asheville, North Carolina, the National Center for Public Policy Research presented a shareholder resolution calling on the industrial giant to explain its rationale for donating shareholder money to controversial groups such as Planned Parenthood and the Clinton Foundation.

“Apparently General Electric executives have no explanation for why the company donates its shareholders’ money to controversial charitable organizations. If the company had strong reasons for such donations, and those reasons outweighed the risks of being associated with such shady groups, then the company would have welcomed our resolution and provided a cogent response,” said National Center General Counsel and Free Enterprise Project (FEP) Director Justin Danhof, Esq., who attended today’s meeting and presented FEP’s proposal. “Why would pro-life investors entrust their funds to a company that then turns around and donates to Planned Parenthood? The obvious answer is that they wouldn’t, and that’s likely why GE refused to properly answer our proposal.”

At the meeting, Danhof stated:

[T]he company provided funds to Planned Parenthood. Already the recipient of $500 million taxpayers’ dollars annually, the nation’s largest abortion provider has come under investigation for the sale of fetal tissue. In response, many states and corporations distanced themselves from Planned Parenthood.

The company also donated to the Center for American Progress (CAP).  CAP is an extreme political group accused of anti-Semitism.  Additionally, in 2010, under the direction of John Podesta – who later became chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign – CAP wrote the blueprint for the Obama Administration’s expansion of executive power.  Now, with President Donald Trump in office, GE lodged complaints about the very same use of executive power effectively designed and, by implication, endorsed through the company’s funding of CAP.

The company also donated to the Clinton Foundation, which is reportedly under FBI investigation.  Media reports strongly imply parts of the Clinton Foundation operated as a pay-for-play scheme whereby individuals and corporations may have sought preferential treatment from government actors in exchange for donations to the Foundation.  Such speculation is further fueled by the closing of some of the Clinton Foundation’s operations following Mrs. Clinton’s unsuccessful White House bid.  GE support of the Clinton Foundation has been the subject of such scrutiny and speculation.

Danhof’s full statement, as prepared for delivery, is available here.  The audio of Danhof’s statement during the meeting can be heard here.  The full text of FEP’s proposal and GE’s response to it are available here.  At press time, the final official vote on the proposal was not available.

Investors have a right to expect that GE is using their money to advance initiatives that raise shareholder value. It is hard to see how donating to extremist groups such as the Center for American Progress (CAP) fulfills GE’s legal fiduciary duty to its stockholders,” added Danhof. “We gave GE an opportunity to explain how how donating shareholder money to Planned Parenthood, CAP and the Clinton Foundation somehow fulfills the company’s obligation to its investors, and it balked. Conservative and pro-life investors have a right to know why the company is in league with such detestable groups. And until such a time as GE answers those questions, investors may want to look elsewhere.”

This isn’t the first time FEP has asked GE for transparency regarding its relationship with the Clinton Foundation.

In 2015, out of concern that the company’s donations to the Clinton Foundation – which coincided closely with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s efforts to help secure a foreign contract for GE – may have subjected the company to liability for honest services fraud, the National Center sought an explanation from GE CEO Jeff Immelt regarding those contributions.  Immelt refused FEP’s request for transparency.  That story was widely covered in the national press, including numerous segments on theFox News Channel.

The National Center’s FEP brought similar shareholder proposals before shareholders atApple earlier this year as well as Coca-Cola, John Deere and McDonalds in 2016. It also raised corporate funding and affiliation issues with executives of Aetna, Honeywell, Pfizer and UPS in 2015 and 2016. This is also not the first time the FEP has submitted a shareholder proposal to GE. In 2014, in response to a FEP proposal, GE proactively changed its corporate policy to protect employees from workplace retribution for private political activities. FEP representatives have been attending GE shareholder meetings since 2009.

Launched in 2007, the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project is the nation’s preeminent free-market activist group – focusing on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. Since 2014, National Center representatives have participated in nearly 100 shareholder meetings to advance free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and many other important public policy issues.   Earlier today, while Danhof was at the General Electric meeting, National Center Vice President David W. Almasi participated in Coca-Cola’s shareholder meeting.

The National Centers Free Enterprise Project activism has yielded a tremendous return on investment:

  • FEPs highly-publicized questioning of support for the Clinton Foundation by Boeing and General Electric helped trigger an FBI investigation of the Clinton Foundations activities that dominated the 2016 presidential campaign.  
  • FEP inquiries prompted Facebook to address political bias against conservatives in social media.
  •  Company executives acknowledged media bias at ABC News (Disney), the Washington Post and CNN (Time Warner) in response to FEPs challenges, which helped to bring about more objective reporting and more balanced political representation.
  • FEPs Employee Conscience Protection Project strengthened protections for the political beliefs and activities of over five million workers at 13 major U.S. corporations.
So far in 2017, the FEP has been featured in media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Variety, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Breitbart, WorldNetDaily, Drudge Report, Business Insider, CNET, National Public Radio, American Family Radio and SiriusXM. In 2016, the FEP was also featured in the Washington Times, the Fox News Channel’s “Cavuto,” the Financial Times, Crain’s Chicago Business, the Hollywood Reporter, the Los Angeles Times, Fortune, Newsmax, the Daily Caller, Lifezette, the Seattle Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Chicago Tribuneamong many others.  The Free Enterprise Project was also featured in Wall Street Journal writer Kimberley Strassels 2016 book The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech (Hachette Book Group).


The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank.  Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations and less than two percent from corporations.  It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.  Sign up for email updates here.  Follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter for general announcements.  To be alerted to upcoming media appearances by National Center staff, follow our media appearances Twitter account at @NCPPRMedia.

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There Can Never Be Transparency In Government When Government Dictates the Transparency

Kabuki Theater: “the stylization of its drama and for the elaborate make-up worn by some of its performers.” (Source)

Government: the exercise and practice of Kabuki that they learned from the Japanese during negotiations post World War II.

In an opinion piece published in the Maine Sun Journal, Sen. Chris Johnson, a member of the Judiciary Committee, says that unless there is an investigation into the actions of the Maine Warden Service and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, concerning undercover operations and accusations that have been leveled against these state agencies, there will be a destruction of the public trust in government.

A truthful analysis might reveal that there is little public trust that exist with any government – or is it just me?

While I have to agree with Sen. Johnson in what he says about the whys and wherefores of transparency and the need to investigate all the actions of the Warden Service and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, including a refusal by these two departments to conduct any investigation and their continued stalling of the release of government documents supposed to be available to the public, how can there ever be transparency when government investigates government? Are we to somehow, magically believe that because the state’s “Right-to-Know Advisory Council” (or any other government agency) may be called in, this will restore public trust?

These are all members of the good-ole-boys’ club and while actions on the surface may appear to some as truthful and transparent, no government agency can ever be honest and achieve the amount of investigative honesty some of us expect. It’s much like what we see in Washington. People actually think somebody is going to get to the bottom of Hillary Clinton’s actions in Benghazi, her email scandal, etc. However, if the government digs too deeply they end up implicating themselves in all government corruption. It therefore becomes nothing more than a fake controlled opposition, designed to deceive until interest fades. These politicians are master of deceit and fraud. And, they are all politicians.

The Maine Warden Service and the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, both government agencies, run by politicians, understand how the rigged system works. It’s Kabuki Theater. Lot’s of show and dance but it’s all fake.

It’s easy to write an opinion piece to a newspaper (especially if it will buy or win votes) making claims of investigations, but when the investigation resembles the infamous fox tending the chicken coop, there will never be public trust of any government agency – unless, of course, you are a shill for the political party that you have been brainwashed to think is looking out for your best interest.

What we are seeing is nothing more than politics as usual. To believe anything else, you are a fool.

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Government Will Investigate Government in Maine Warden Service Conundrum

*Editor’s Note* – I have written previously on this subject. Follow these links for more information and commentary – HEREHEREHEREHERE

I told you so! Back on May 13, 2016, in response to a news report that the State of Maine would conduct an investigation into possible illegal or improper tactics by undercover Maine Wardens, and the subsequent accusation of stonewalling the press for information under the Freedom of Information Access Act law, I expressed myself thus: “There have been calls for an “investigation” into what’s going on as well as a look into the written policies, which evidently are a secret, that regulate the behavior of undercover Maine wardens. The problem with such an investigation is that it is likely to be the government investigating the government, and we all know what that outcome will be.” (emboldening added)

The Portland Press Herald is now reporting that limited representation from the Maine Judiciary Committee, along with limited members of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Warden Service, will be part of a “hearing,” open to the public but with no outside questions or input. In short, a dog and pony show. “There is no public hearing scheduled. No members of the public, no alleged victims of entrapment, no members of the press who have been stiffed on their FOAA requests, no criminal defense attorneys, nor other interested parties will be allowed to speak or participate. This is simply not fair or adequate.”

Not since the Maine Government investigated itself (this link has several articles about the Baxter Land Swap as well as Gardner Lumber Company cutting of deer yard timber) on the extremely controversial “Baxter Land Swap” and an investigation of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife of itself, concerning actions that allowed for the cutting of deer yard forest of certain public lands, – land that was part of the Baxter Land Swap – is there such thumbing of noses at a legitimate judicial review and public transparency – one can only conclude the good ole boys are at work covering their own asses. And, is it my imagination or does it appear as though even the undertaking of a much needed investigation is highly political and falls mostly, if not completely, along party lines?

Like good, non-thinking, robotic slaves, we are to never question government, or its authority, and accept what we are told as being the truth…their truth.

Lying

CoconutsBearEggs

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Coke Management Urges Shareholders to Oppose Transparency Proposal

Press Release from the National Center for Public Policy Research:

Report Requirement Would Let Shareholders Know Why Management Donated to Groups that Promote Restrictions on Soda, for Instance

Company Might Also Have to Explain to Shareholders Why It Agreed to Stop Meeting with Conservative State Legislators

National Center for Public Policy Research Says Such Reports Can Be Helpful to Management, as Public Companies Often Have No Idea About the More Unsavory Aspects of Some of the Left-Wing Groups They Support

 

Atlanta, GA / Washington, D.C.  – Shareholder activists affiliated with the National Center for Public Policy Research today asked Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent and Coke’s board of directors to address growing shareholder concerns that the beverage giant is promoting public policies that are at odds with its stated goals and values.

A representative of the National Center addressed the CEO and board and assembled shareholders at the annual shareholder meeting in Atlanta today, asking shareholders to vote for a shareholder resolution that asks management to issue annual reports telling shareholders whether its activities have been consistent with company goals and values, and providing information and explanations when they do not.

“The shareholder resolution will not change any of the company’s policies, goals or values or place them in the hands of shareholders instead of management,” said the National Center’s Demetrius Minor, who addressed the board and shareholders at the meeting. “It simply will tell shareholders if management believes it has lived up to its own values and goals.”

The National Center’s shareholder activism division, its Free Enterprise Project, believes Coca-Cola has increasingly been moving leftward, and that shareholders of the beverage giant are largely unaware.

The National Center says it is unclear to what extent management is fully aware of the impacts of some of its liberal policies, especially its major contributions to certain groups. The National Center says it also is unclear whether the company’s increasing trend toward left-wing activism is the intentional result of the political philosophies of the firm’s senior management, or if Coca-Cola believes it can placate liberal critics by making strategic contributions to groups on the left and occasionally being willing to take marching orders from liberal activists.

In an April 26 press release, National Center FEP director Justin Danhof noted that Coca-Cola withdrew from a 40-year-old group of conservative and free-market state legislators, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), at the request of left-wing activists. Participation in the group had allowed Coca-Cola executives an opportunity to efficiently explain its position on certain “nanny state” initiatives, such as New York City-style bans on large beverage cups, to state legislators.

“Nanny state” regulations typically include some combination of new taxes and bans on the sale of beverages of food items that are not high in nutrition. These regulations are extremely unpopular with the public, so their advocates usually promote them with a degree of stealth. Efforts to shut down groups such as ALEC is one such method.

“Coca-Cola may have thought it could placate left-wing critics by leaving ALEC,” saidAmy Ridenour, chairman of the National Center for Public Policy Research, “and give itself some breathing room. But, invariably, when leftists get a corporation to do what they want once, the activists sense weakness. Instead of making left-wing activists go away, concessions make them come back – over and over and over.”

“We gave shareholders three more reasons to be concerned about Coca-Cola’s leftward drift,” added Ridenour. One of them was a very surprising instance of Coca-Cola reportedly intervening in a court case about gay marriage by telling a law firm it worked with that the law firm would lose Coca-Cola’s business if it allowed one of its partners to represent one of the parties in the lawsuit. This is a very, very direct form of activism that goes against the traditional American philosophy, enshrined in the Constitution, that everyone has a right to legal counsel.”

“I want to be clear,” Ridenour added. “We cannot prove Coca-Cola intervened to pressure a law firm to drop an unpopular, non-PC client, but when I and two of my National Center colleagues wanted to find out for sure, we met with a senior Coca-Cola executives at Coca-Cola’s offices and asked. An executive promised to find out and get back to us. He did not get back to us, and my followup phone calls and emails were not returned. The company never denied the truth of this to us.”

“Coca-Cola also has made significant donations to controversial organizations,” Ridenour said. “For example, in support of green groups that reportedly push poor people in developing nations off their land so that trees can be planted so rich western movie stars and business executives can purchase co-called ‘carbon offsets’ to excuse what they believe is the impact on global warming of their huge yachts and private jets.”

“In at least one tragic case, death occurred when a company allegedly hired by a green group to rid an area of residential huts so trees could be planted set fire to the huts when children were inside. In other cases, poor people in the millions have been driven from their homes to increase habitat for wildlife,” Ridenour said. “Now, we don’t believe for a minute anyone in Coca-Cola wants to kill children, but what we don’t know is whether Coca-Cola has put a system in place to make certain any future contributions to environmental organizations are not used in a manner that harm people – especially people who are poor and who lack the political power to defend themselves.”

“Our shareholder proposal calling for an annual report on these matters from management to shareholders seems a reasonable way to begin to address these issues,” Ridenour concluded. “Regrettably, management decided to oppose our suggestion, and many shareholders and institutional investors are more concerned with money than basic civil and human rights. The irony, though, is that our proposed annual report would probably have resulted in a net positive impact on Coca-Cola’s bottom line. The institutional investors could have had their cake and eat it, too.”

The National Center’s shareholder resolution, and Coca-Cola’s statement urging shareholders to vote against it, can be found on pages 92 and 93 of the company’s proxy statement, available here.

The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project is the nation’s preeminent free-market activist group. It uses shareholder activism to address activities by big corporations that grow government, engage in corporate cronyism or promote a left-of-center public policy agenda. It also calls out corporate CEOs and business leaders who make misleading or false statements about public policy issues, typically to advance a policy agenda in a dishonest way.

In 2014-15, National Center representatives participated in 69 shareholder meetings advancing free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and many other important public policy issues. It has attended and participated in six shareholder meetings so far in 2016.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors. Sign up for free issue alerts here or follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter.

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John Deere Votes on Conservative Transparency Proposal After Surrender to Leftist Groups

Press Release from the National Center for Public Policy Research:

“John Deere Consistently Surrenders to the Left”

John Deere Shareholders Voted Today on Political Transparency Proposal Asking Company to Report to Shareholders When It Supports Groups that Do Not Share Its Stated Corporate Value of Being Pro-Free Enterprise

Proposal Comes as Deere Voted One of Fortune Magazine’s “Top 50 Admired Companies” – But Will Deere Still Be Admired If It Continues to Take Orders from Ultra-Left Anti-Free Enterprise Groups?

 

Moline, IL / Washington, D.C.  – At today’s annual meeting of John Deere shareholders in Moline, Illinois, National Center for Public Policy Research Free Enterprise Director Justin Danhof presented a shareholder proposal to increase political and public policy corporate transparency in light of activities by management that seem at odds with John Deere’s stated corporate values.

The proposal, available on page 67 of John Deere’s proxy statement, asks company management to report to shareholders when it undertakes political activities at odds with its report to shareholders that it supports public policy and political initiatives that have a “pro-business outlook and support… the free enterprise system.”

Danhof presented the proposal in person to management and shareholders today. The text of his presentation, as prepared for delivery, is here. The final results are not yet available.

“Today, we put John Deere executives on notice – when the company chooses to embrace leftist policies or takes anti-free-market actions, the National Center will not sit idly by,” said Danhof.

“Over the last decade, unions, left-wing activists and liberal asset managers have deluged corporate America with shareholder proposals requesting that corporations end support for conservatives and free-market organizations. Often his has been nothing but a well-funded left-wing effort to stifle free speech, yet, all too often, corporate America has surrendered to radical demands,” Danhof added.

“John Deere consistently surrenders to the left. From supporting cap-and-trade to rejecting continued membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council, Deere executives have given aid and comfort – not to mention shareholder money – to far-left causes,” said Danhof.

When presenting the National Center proposal to Deere shareholders, Danhof asked shareholders to stand up if they believe “John Deere is better off if corporate taxes are higher and government places more and more regulations upon what we are allowed sell and how we can manufacture.”

Despite being given time to stand and additional encouragement to stand if they support management’s current path by Danhof, not one shareholder stood.

“When I asked the Deere shareholders in attendance today if they supported higher corporate taxes and increased government regulations, the room was palpably silent,” Danhof said.

“Our proposal today was about much more than John Deere. Left-wing activists who oppose free speech and their corporate enablers should be worried. No longer will conservative and pro-free enterprise Americans sit by and watch the destruction of the American free-market system,” Danhof added.

“John Deere announced Monday that it was recognized as one of America’s ‘Top 50 Admired Companies,'” added Danhof. “John Deere has a truly enviable reputation as an all-American company. But can John Deere retain this reputation if it continues to work with far-left organizations against our free-enterprise system, and calls conservative groups ‘extremists’ — as its CEO, Samuel Allen, called the National Center for Public Policy Research to my face at in a meeting simply because we asked John Deere not to take orders from Color of Change and other far-left groups?”

“John Deere also is at risk of losing its reparation as a straight-shooting, honest company,” Danhof said. “When the National Center for Public Policy Research presented our shareholder proposal for inclusion in the proxy statement, Deere’s attorneys fought us at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). We’ve fought dozens of companies before the SEC, but have never, ever had a battle there in which the company made so many flat-out dishonest arguments. We were, frankly, shocked. Management should put a stop to this sort of thing right away. Fighting is one thing; fighting dishonestly is something else entirely.”

The National Center for Public Policy Research nonetheless prevailed at the SEC. The entire written exchange between Deere’s attorneys and the National Center for Public Policy Research before the SEC, including the arguments made by Deere that the National Center for Public Policy Research believes were dishonest, is available on the SEC’s website.

More information about the National Center’s activities at John Deere is available in a press release we issued yesterday, February 23, and more information about our Free Enterprise Project is available here.

To speak with Justin Danhof or for more information, please contact Judy Kent at(703) 759-7476 or cell (703) 477-7476 or jkent@nationalcenter.org.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors. Sign up for free issue alerts here or follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter.

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John Deere and Apple Investors to Vote on Liberty Proposals

Press Release from the National Center for Public Policy Research:
Pro-Liberty Resolutions to Be Presented to John Deere and Apple Investors This Week

National Center for Public Policy Research Asks John Deere Investors to Support Its Call for Increased Transparency Surrounding the Company’s Anti-Free Market Policy Activities

National Center’s Proposal to Apple’s Shareholders Highlights Dangers of Corporate America’s Fight Against Religious Freedom

 

Moline, IL / Cupertino, CA / Washington, D.C.  – At tomorrow’s annual meeting of John Deere shareholders in Moline, Illinois, and Friday’s annual meeting of Apple shareholders in Cupertino, California, The National Center for Public Policy Research will present two different shareholder proposals aimed at advancing corporate transparency and religious liberty.

“For far too many years, corporate America has been lending its voice, money and power to liberal politicians, causes and organizations. From ObamaCare, to gay marriage to federal energy policy, the past seven years of the Obama Administration has coincided with an expansive growth of corporate statism and corporate liberalism,” said National Center Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, Esq. “While the exponential growth of cronyism has coincided with President Obama’s time in office, it isn’t coincidental. The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project will bring the fight for liberty to corporate America in earnest this year. The battle starts this week.”

On Wednesday, Danhof will present the National Center’s shareholder proposal to John Deere’s investors at the company’s annual meeting in Moline, Illinois. The proposal, titled “Political Spending Congruency Analysis,” asks the company to report to shareholders when Deere decides to fund or work with anti-capitalist groups or politicians.

“Deere has often taken actions that run counter to its duties as a for-profit, publicly-held company,” said Danhof. “For example, when liberal politicians in Washington, D.C. needed corporate support for their repeated attempts to shackle the economy with cap-and-trade schemes on carbon emissions, John Deere happily obliged. However, after the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project ran advertisements highlighting the economic pitfalls of a federal cap-and-trade program, Deere withdrew from the corporate lobbying coalition supporting such a plan.”

The National Center’s proposal also criticizes John Deere for kowtowing to radical liberal groups and withdrawing from the American Legislative Exchange Council, noting that:

[D]espite the fact that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) works to foster a low-regulation business-friendly environment, the Company publicly ended its affiliation with ALEC in 2012 at a time when anti-free-market activists were perpetuating falsehoods about ALEC and its activities.

“Deere’s leaders are free to continue supporting anti-capitalist politicians and causes,” said Danhof. “We just think that they should tell the company’s investors when they do so. That way, the investing public can make an informed decision. That’s why we urge all John Deere shareholders to support our proposal.”

 The National Center’s complete shareholder resolution, and John Deere’s response to it, can be found on pages 67 and 68 of the company’s proxy statement – which is available for download here.

John Deere’s lawyers attempted to remove the National Center’s proposal from its proxy statement; however, the National Center’s legal team prevailed in its arguments before the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and won the right to place the proposal before the company’s shareholders for a vote.

The entire legal exchange between John Deere and the National Center, along with the SEC’s decision, can be downloaded here.

At Friday’s annual meeting of Apple shareholders, scheduled to take place at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, Danhof will present a stockholder proposal as part of the National Center’s Religious Freedom Defense Initiative.

The National Center’s Religious Freedom Defense Initiative is working to correct the record about religious freedom laws. The National Center’s proposal to Apple highlights the company’s hypocrisy on the issue of religious freedom and points out the adverse effects on shareholder value that can occur when corporate leaders speak out on issues which they have no expertise.

Last spring, Apple CEO Tim Cook joined with many corporate executives and much of the liberal media in attacking Americans of faith. Writing in the Washington Post, Cook falsely claimed that attempts to enact religious freedom laws in Arkansas and Indiana “would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors.”

“Cook is simply wrong on the law,” notes Danhof. “The federal government and 31 states have heightened religious freedom laws and none of them legalize discrimination against anyone. What Mr. Cook did was taint Apple’s brand with extreme anti-religious bigotry. American society was set up to protect discreet and insular minorities. Today, that has become an Indiana pizza shop and small cake bakers who simply want to practice their religion and not be forced by the government to break their covenants with their Creator. Cook has joined with the mob in trying to destroy them.”

Despite Cook’s outlandish attacks on religious liberty here in the homeland, Apple actually does business in many countries where homosexuality is outlawed and homosexuals are imprisoned and even killed. The National Center proposal drives this hypocrisy home, stating:

CEO [Cook] bashed state-level religious freedom laws as anti-homosexual bigotry saying, “Apple is open. Open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love. Regardless of what the law might allow in Indiana or Arkansas, we will never tolerate discrimination.” Yet, according to the Washington Post, Apple has a presence in 17 countries where homosexual acts are illegal. In four of those nations, homosexual acts are punishable by death. These company operations are inconsistent with Apple’s values as extolled by our CEO.

The proponent believes that Apple’s record to date demonstrates a gap between its lofty rhetoric / aspirations and its performance.

The National Center’s complete shareholder resolution, and Apple’s response to it, can be found on pages 62 and 63 of the company’s proxy statement – which is available for download here.

Apple’s lawyers also petitioned the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission seeking to block the National Center’s proposal. However, the National Center’s legal team prevailed in convincing the SEC that its proposal was so significant that the company’s shareholders should have a say on the matter.

The entire legal exchange between Apple and the National Center, along with the SEC’s decision, can be downloaded here.

The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project is the nation’s preeminent free-market activist group focusing on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. In 2014-15, National Center representatives participated in 69 shareholder meetings advancing free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and many other important public policy issues. This week’s John Deere and Apple meetings mark its first and second shareholder meetings of 2016.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors. Sign up for free issue alerts here or follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter.

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House passes bill to provide transparency in EAJA

*Editor’s Note* – I have not read and studied HR 3279. Here’s the link to the study. The information provided in the article linked to below is the opinion of the Western Livestock Journal. Please take the time to read and understand the bill and how it will completely affect the Equal Access to Justice Act. We know how politics and government work and can never rely on their or the news’ information.

When spending money, most citizens and businesses know and keep records on how much they pay and to whom. That hasn’t been the case for almost 20 years for the government, at least in the case of the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). In an attempt to remedy that situation, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill, HR 3279, the “Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act,” on Dec.1 that would reinstate requirements that federal agencies track and report the attorney fees awarded under the EAJA. The legislation passed by a unanimous voice vote.

Source: House passes bill to provide transparency in EAJA | Western Livestock Journal

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Exposing Hunting Hatred

*Editor’s Note* – Some may think the opinion piece linked to below is about Question One on the Maine ballot – a referendum about “clean” elections and transparency. But it really is not. It’s about furthering one’s specific agenda of hating on anything to do with hunting and trapping.

If Question One is worth anything, it can stand on its own as having a real need for campaign and election transparency. Yet, in the middle of the opinion piece, the author inserts the below paragraph, seemingly as an example of why changes need to be made in how money is raised to support campaigns.

I suppose when a person or group of persons hate anything and anyone enough, any excuse is a good reason to promote their cause regardless of relevance. This sort of trash needs to be exposed for what it is.

During the campaign for the bear referendum of 2014, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) located in Washington, D.C., was labeled as an out-of-state special interest group that manipulated a large number of unsuspecting Mainers into voting for the referendum. While it was reported in the news media that the spending for the campaign on both sides of the referendum was approximately equal; not much mention was made of the national and local hunting and sporting groups that campaigned against the referendum. It’s time to set the record straight.

Source: Who’s Paying for What or Whose Government Is It Anyway? | The View from Here

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Google Asked to Improve Transparency

Press Release from the National Center for Public Policy Research:

Free-Market Organization Asks Google to Be Transparent with Investors Regarding Cost of “Green” Initiatives

Shareholder Resolution Sought Disclosure of Risk to Shareholders if Taxpayers Decide to End Generous Subsidies to Alternative Energy

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt Also Criticized for Making the Company Vulnerable to a Lawsuit from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

Mountain View, CA / Washington, DC – At today’s annual meeting of Google shareholders in Mountain View, California, the National Center for Public Policy Research presented a shareholder resolution urging the company to come clean with investors about the risks associated with its alternative energy projects – many of which receive lavish taxpayer subsidies that may not continue indefinitely.

“The Obama Administration and many state governments have destructive energy policies that pick winners and losers. Using taxpayer funds, these schemes often subsidize alternative energy projects and cause great harm to middle and low-income Americans. Companies such as Google take advantage of these policies to ‘greenwash’ their images,” said National Center Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, Esq. “However, as budgets tighten, taxpayer-subsidized freebies may end, thereby exposing Google investors to great risk as the company’s portfolio is heavily invested in renewable energy schemes.”

At the meeting, Danhof presented the National Center’s shareholder proposal. In doing so, he noted that in accepting taxpayer funding for certain green energy projects, Google has placed its own shareholders in an unknown degree of risk:

It is no secret that the federal government and many state and local governments offer substantial tax breaks and lavish grants and loans for many renewable energy projects, and Google has taken advantage of these taxpayer subsidies. Our proposal asks management to tell its shareholders one simple thing: if renewable energy projects such as solar power and geothermal were forced to compete in a free market, would Google investors be at risk? If politicians in Washington, Sacramento and elsewhere changed their minds about spending many hundreds of billions of dollars on the “green” energy projects of private businesses like ours, what would the impact be on our shareholders?

Danhof also noted that Google’s decision to accept taxpayer support gives it a conflict of interest when addressing energy issues publicly:

The company has claimed that it supports rigorous debate regarding energy policy, but as long as the company accepts grants and loans based on the belief that global warming is significantly caused by humans and is a severe problem, the company has a conflict of interest. If the company promotes the global warming theory, it promotes policies that enhance the company’s coffers. If the company promotes any skepticism whatsoever regarding the global warming theory, it risks undermining support for grants and loans for green energy projects management has already begun.

And Danhof noted that Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt seemingly, and unnecessarily, put the company at risk from a lawsuit from the free-market American Legislative Exchange Council:

The company’s desire to continue grants and loans for green energy appears to be undermining our management’s admirable reputation as straight-shooters. In choosing, we believe unwisely, to withdraw the company from the free-market American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Chairman Eric Schmidt said ALEC was “literally lying” about climate change. But ALEC has no position on the degree to which climate change is occurring and if it is occurring, what the cause might be. ALEC simply promotes policies that reduce government interference with energy markets. Since ALEC has no position, its position cannot be a lie.

But Schmidt’s over-the-top statement – which, by the way, could unnecessarily make the company vulnerable to a lawsuit by ALEC – implies Google is highly emotional about the climate change issue, which in turn raises the possibility that the company is very reliant on energy policies providing lavish subsidies for renewable energy projects.

If this is so, don’t shareholders deserve to know the extent of the company’s exposure?

To read Danhof’s full statement, as prepared for delivery, click here.

To watch him make the statement, go here.

The National Center’s shareholder proposal highlighted how Google uses taxpayer funds to promote its green portfolio:

Google relies on government actions to obtain certain financial advantages from climate change-related investments. Google might be materially affected by legislative and regulatory developments concerning climate change.

For example, it has been reported that Google and other investors in the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System are seeking more than $500 million in taxpayer funds to help pay off a federal loan for the solar project. That project has already received $1.6 billion in government loans. Future political leaders may act differently concerning loans and grants for alternative energy projects.

The National Center’s shareholder proposal is found on page 62 of Google’s proxy statement.

“If Google wants to green its image, let it do so on its own dime,” said Danhof. “Why should American taxpayers help foot the bill so that major tech companies such as Google and Apple can appeal to liberals and the mainstream press by pretending to invest in green energy for virtuous reasons? Politics is fickle, and the next presidential administration may force energy producers to compete freely by removing lavish alternative energy production subsidies. At that point, Google’s investors would effectively be left blowing in the wind.”

Late last year, the Wall Street Journal explained how Google’s renewable energy schemes not only rely on American taxpayers to remain profitable, but harm low-income Americans as well. The Journal article noted:

Most of Google’s renewable investments qualify for a federal investment tax credit that covers 30% of the cost. Its $450 million investment in rooftop solar-systems also benefits from state incentives such as “net-metering” laws. This hidden subsidy compensates ratepayers for power they remit to the grid at the retail rate, which can be three times as much as the wholesale price of electricity. Net-metering allows solar companies to charge higher rates to homeowners who lease their panels, and thus for investors like Google to reap larger profits.

Last September, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt announced on a PBS broadcast that the company would no longer be a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Schmidt accused ALEC of lying about climate change and “hurting our children and grandchildren.”

“It was Schmidt who was lying about climate politics,” said Danhof. “It was not ALEC. ALEC does not have a position on climate change. Rather, as the Wall Street Journal has reported, ‘ALEC provides a forum for sundry businesses to discuss free-market reforms with state lawmakers. Two of its policy targets are renewable-energy mandates and subsidies, which are being exploited by big businesses like Google at the expense of low-and middle-income taxpayers. Google’s real problem with ALEC is a conflict of pecuniary interests.'”

An initial vote at today’s Google meeting showed the National Center proposal did not pass.

In March, the National Center presented a similar shareholder proposal at the annual meeting of Apple shareholders.

The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project is the nation’s preeminent free-market activist group focusing on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. So far in 2014-15, National Center representatives have participated in 69 shareholder meetings advancing free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and many other important public policy issues.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.

The National Center for Public Policy Research was founded in 1982. Sign up for free issue alerts here.

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Apple Fights Transparency Over Green Energy

Press Release from the National Center for Public Policy Research:

Transparency Urged for Apple at Shareholder Meeting Today

National Center for Public Policy Research Pushes Proposal Requiring Apple Board to Reveal Possibly Risky Investments in Renewable Energy

Investments Are Risky Because They Are Subsidized by Tax Dollars

As Popularity of Causes Such As Global Warming Wane, Voters May Reduce Support for “Green” Energy Subsidies, Harming Apple

In Verbal Joust Last Year, Apple CEO Tim Cook Told National Center He Doesn’t Care About “Bloody Return on Investment”

So Will Apple “Go Green” Even if the Taxpayers Don’t?

If Apple Does, What Are the Costs to Shareholders?

If It Doesn’t, Was Tim Cook’s ‘Bloody ROI’ Boast Merely PR and Greenwashing?

Apple Went to Securities and Exchange Commission to Block National Center Proposal From Appearing on Proxy Statement, But Lost

So Apple Shareholders Will Vote on Transparency Proposal Today

Cupertino, CA/Washington, DC – The National Center for Public Policy Research is urging the tech giant Apple’s investors to vote in favor of the National Center’s shareholder proposal today at the Company’s annual shareholder meeting.

The proposal calls on Apple’s board to increase transparency regarding risks posed, if any, by the company’s extensive alternative energy projects.

Apple fought the National Center at the Securities and Exchange Commission to get the proposal blocked, but the SEC sided with the National Center.

“Apple has undertaken expensive alternative energy investments,” said National Center Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, Esq., “and alternative energy investments can be risky. As our proposal notes, federal, state and/or local policies subsidizing such investments, and upon which company business plans rely, can be repealed or altered. The shareholders deserve to know how much of Apple’s business plan relies on these taxpayer subsidies, and how much shareholders would be hurt if government policies were to change.”

The National Center’s shareholder proposal, says, in part:

The Securities and Exchange Commission has recognized that climate change regulations, policy and legislation pose a business risk to companies. One risk is that federal, state and/or local government policies, adopted in whole or in part due to climate change concerns, that subsidize renewable energy and upon which company business plans rely may be repealed or altered.

These changes in policy may be significant, and may come with little advance notice to the company.

Shareholders request that the Board of Directors authorize the preparation of a report… disclosing the risk to the company posed by possible changes in federal, state or local government policies in the United States relating to climate change and/or renewable energy.

The National Center’s complete shareholder resolution, and Apple’s response to it, can be found on pages 62 and 63 of the company’s proxy statement, which is available for download here.

“If Apple’s ‘green’ projects are a truly sound investment, or if it genuinely does not care about what Tim Cook calls the ‘bloody ROI,’ it won’t matter to Apple whether the government heavily subsidizes alternative energy. Alternatively, if Apple is relying heavily on preferential government policies to make its green investments financially sound, investors have a right to know,” said Danhof. “So do taxpayers.”

At last year’s Apple meeting, Cook became angry when Danhof asked about the company’s green investments. As the National Center explained in a press release following last year’s meeting:

Danhof also asked Apple CEO Tim Cook about the company’s green energy pursuits. Danhof asked whether the company’s environmental investments increased or decreased the company’s bottom line. After initially suggesting that the investments make economic sense, Cook said the company would pursue environmental goals even if there was no economic point at all to the venture. Danhof further asked if the company’s projects would continue to make sense if the federal government stopped heavily subsidizing alternative energy. Cook completely ignored the inquiry and became visibly agitated.

Cook suggested that if investors care only about return on investment, they should divest their shares in Apple. Cook’s outburst was covered in nearly 8,000 media stories, was the subject of at least one graduate school business course and become part of the business press lexicon.

Earlier this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded to an analyst’s question about why investors should care about the social media giant’s efforts to connect African countries by shooting back that “[i]t matters what kind of investors we have.” CNN Money and other business publications dubbed Zuckerberg’s reaction to be his “Tim Cook moment.”

“Last year, my question about whether Apple’s alternative energy investments served a legitimate business purpose put Tim Cook on a fence. He could continue Apple’s public relations mantra that Apple is all about saving the environment, or he could have said at least some of Apple’s alternative energy efforts are greenwashing on the taxpayer’s dime,” said Danhof. “It is clear why Cook choose to double down on Apple’s public relations campaign. Apple has done a marvelous job of claiming to be a socially conscious company that cares for people and the environment.”

“If Tim Cook was being honest when he said Apple doesn’t operate its business with any concern for ‘bloody’ return on investment, then he should happily say that Apple will invest in alternative energy at all costs. He should say that, even if federal and local governments remove all perks and tax breaks for renewable energy projects, Apple will continue to spend its investors’ money on risky solar and geothermal schemes,” said Danhof. “Until Cook does that, his episodic meltdown last year was nothing more than theater.”

In a break from its tradition of generally accepting all properly-presented shareholder proposals for inclusion in its proxy statement, Apple’s legal team repeatedly petitioned the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this year for the right to omit the National Center’s proposal from its proxy materials altogether. Through multiple rounds of legal back-and-forth, the National Center won the right to have Apple’s shareholders vote on its proposal. To view the full legal exchanges between the National Center and Apple, click here.

The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project is the nation’s preeminent free-market corporate activist group. In 2014, Free Enterprise Project representatives participated in 52 shareholder meetings advancing free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers rights and many other important public policy issues.

Tomorrow’s Apple meeting will mark the fourth shareholder meeting attended by National Center representatives in 2015.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.

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