March 21, 2023

Harley-Davidson CEO Lauds Trump Relationship: Company Will “Continue to Engage” White House on Policy

Press Release from the National Center for Public Policy Research:

100 Days into Trump Presidency, Free Enterprise Project Urges Motorcycle Giant to Remain Politically Involved, Defend Economic Agenda Against Leftist Attacks

  Milwaukee, WI / Washington, DC – At today’s annual meeting of Harley-Davidson shareholders, the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project(FEP) – the nation’s leading proponent of free-market investor activism – thanked company executives for working with the Trump Administration to reverse an economic downturn exacerbated by Obama-era policies and regulations. Harley CEO Matt Levatich said the iconic American manufacturer will “continue to be involved” with the White House to benefit its customers and the “American qualities” for which the brand is renowned.

“It’s fitting that Harley-Davidson’s shareholder meeting falls on the 100th day of Donald Trump’s presidency. As pundits analyze this new presidency, the early February meeting between Trump and Harley executives should be considered among its high points, because it showed corporate America willing to work with our President to fix our economy, create jobs and bring wealth back to our communities,” said National Center Vice President David W. Almasi, a Harley-Davidson shareholder who represented FEP at the meeting. “Executives nationwide are under intense pressure from liberals to shun the Trump Administration. Uber’s CEO caved to political pressure when he resigned from the President’s economic advisory council, and executives at Disney, Pepsi and other companies are under fire to do the same. To their credit, Harley-Davidson executives are not flinching.”

In making FEP’s case to Harley-Davidson CEO Matthew Levatich, Almasi said:

Our last president did not act in the best interest of American business. Back then, corporate leaders supported, promoted and even helped implement bad initiatives they knew were wrong just so they could say they still had a seat at the table of power. But there was little to no return on the investment for their complicity with failed policies such as ObamaCare. America has suffered as a result.

The stark change in the political climate on Capitol Hill and in the White House now provides Harley-Davidson and other companies with a unique opportunity to work with the government to roll back the mistakes of past rulemaking and pursue innovative new paths to create jobs and increase wealth. We are glad to see Harley-Davidson is rolling toward that opportunity rather than away from it like Uber and Starbucks.

Almasi’s complete prepared statement is available here:

Levatich said the company is always “pleased to have the opportunity to share” how government policies “affect our business.” In discussing the recent White House meeting, he said he was impressed by how members of the Trump Administration “leaned in, listened respectfully and cared what Harley-Davidson had to say. . . And you can’t ask for anything more than that.”

Almasi, however, pressed Levatich to make sure Harley is “willing to defend itself and the policies it supports from the inevitable backlash” that will come from left-wing politicians and radical activists.

“One of the policy priorities Levatich and the Harley team brought to Trump in February was the need to ease the corporate tax rate. When Trump’s tax overhaul plan was unveiled this week, Harley’s suggestion was a key component. Starbucks and Uber – companies that appear unwilling to work with Trump – may benefit from this policy change, but it is Harley’s courage that helped drive the effort to bring necessary relief to struggling American businesses,” Almasi added. “But, as it did with ObamaCare replacement efforts, the left is going do everything it can to kill tax reform. Businesses like Harley-Davidson need to remain active in the process to ensure opponents of reform – who are numerous and well-funded – don’t derail the policies needed to put America back on the path to prosperity.”

This was the third Harley-Davidson shareholder meeting in which FEP has participated. In 2013, Almasi questioned then-CEO Keith Wandell about how the company might deal with anticipated challenges from the Obama Administration’s Consumer Protection Financial Bureau regarding minority lending quotas. In 2014, National Center General Counsel and FEP Director Justin Danhof, Esq. suggested to Wandell that unionized Harley-Davidson employees should be allowed to recertify their membership with the union on a regular basis.

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. The Harley-Davidson meeting marks FEP’s ninth shareholder meeting attended so far in 2017 .  

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 60,000 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.