22 Apr 2015 Leading Free Market Activist Group Advises Investors to Reject Upcoming Shareholder Resolutions Designed to Stifle Free Speech and Defund Market-Based Policy Solutions
Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Honeywell Investors Face Votes on Anti-Capitalist Measures
National Center for Public Policy Research Leading the Charge Against Extremist Attacks on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
As ALEC Works to Improve Business Environment and Expand American Jobs, Liberal Activists Spread Misinformation and Fear
Washington, D.C. – The National Center for Public Policy Research is advising investors to reject shareholder resolutions being presented by extremely liberal activists posing as good governance stewards at the respective upcoming annual shareholder meetings of Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Honeywell.
The annual meeting of Pfizer shareholders will take place April 23 in Short Hills, New Jersey at 8:30 AM.
The annual meeting of Johnson & Johnson shareholders will take place April 23 in New Brunswick, New Jersey at 10:30 AM.
The annual meeting of Honeywell shareholders will take place April 27 in Morris Township, New Jersey at 10:30 AM.
“Corporate America is under assault from a twisted web of coordinated, progressive activist groups that pose as good governance proponents,” said National Center Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, Esq. “From NorthStar Asset Management, to As You Sow, to Ceres, to the SEIU, to the Center for Media & Democracy and many dozens more, liberal activist groups are seeking to use corporations as tools to advance far-left policies on issues such as health care and the environment. But more than anything, this movement is about ending one thing that many liberals simply abhor – free speech.”
At Thursday’s annual meeting of Johnson & Johnson shareholders, investors will vote on a proposal submitted by NorthStar Asset Management that ostensibly asks the company to align its corporate donations with its stated corporate values. However, the proposal is actually an attack on conservative politicians, free market positions and pro-business organizations. The proposal attacks Johnson & Johnson for past donations to politicians that supported free-market approaches to American energy policy and traditional marriage. It also attacks the company for its involvement with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“NorthStar gives away its true intentions in its proposal’s opening sentence, which complains about the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission by bemoaning the Court’s plain language interpretation of free speech,” said Danhof. “But speech – in this instance, monetary donations – that Johnson & Johnson has made to liberal politicians is conspicuously absent from the laundry list of activities that NorthStar’s proposal complains about. NorthStar’s proposal only complains about donations that advance conservative or free-market causes. And that is the heart of this entire movement – the left is all for free speech, unless it disagrees with that speech.”
NorthStar Asset Management’s proposal can be found on page 78 of Johnson & Johnson’s proxy statement, which is available here.
Johnson & Johnson made itself vulnerable to this type of proposal when it bowed to leftist pressure in 2012 and caved to Color of Change after it pressured the company to stop working with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
“By acceding to the left’s demands to end a relationship with a well-respected, four-decade old organization of state legislators that promotes free market values and limited government, Johnson & Johnson put a target on its back. Once these extreme activists know a company will give an inch, they will come back for a mile,” said Danhof. “Johnson & Johnson’s investors can send a loud message Thursday by rejecting this latest liberal assault and perhaps steel the company’s spine against further attacks.”
Pfizer and Honeywell are under attack specifically for their continued involvement with ALEC.
“Liberal agitators have been running a coordinated effort to demonize ALEC for the better part of three-plus years. Pfizer and Honeywell investors have an opportunity to send a loud message that this movement has lost its steam. Built on a foundation of misinformation and outlandish racial attacks, liberals have been fomenting hatred for ALEC in an overt attempt to stifle free speech,” said Danhof. “Once investors know the truth about these trumped up attacks, I am confident they will reject these proposals and with it the entire anti-ALEC, anti-free speech movement.”
Pfizer investors will vote on a proposal submitted by the Christopher Reynolds Foundation that is a clear attempt to pressure the company to sever ties with ALEC. The proposal attacks work that ALEC did years ago concerning renewable energy standards and voter ID, claiming that such initiatives are “controversial.”
The left-wing Christopher Reynolds Foundation, established in 1952, is dedicated to the normalization of U.S. relations with Cuba, but it lends its invested assets in U.S. corporations to left-wing activism projects, such as those attacking Exxon-Mobil on climate change; Merck, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson for belonging to PhRMA; many corporations on executive compensation; Dominion, Southern, and Covanta on biomass energy; and more.
“The Christopher Reynolds Foundation has clearly been spending too much of its time helping the Castro brothers,” said Amy Ridenour, chairman of the National Center for Public Policy Research, “because it has gotten out of touch with the beliefs and interests of Americans here at home. It complains that Pfizer belongs to a pro-business group that supported voter ID years ago. Does the Christopher Reynolds Foundation not realize the American people support voter ID by 70-27%? That Democrats support it 55-43%? Black Americans 51-46? People with a college degree 64-33% and people without, 75-23? I can well believe Fidel Castro disapproves of voter ID – he doesn’t even approve of voting – but the American people overwhelmingly do.”
“The Christopher Reynolds Foundation also complains in its proposal that ALEC has opposed ‘state-level Renewable Portfolio standards.’ These standards hurt the poor and disproportionately harm minorities by raising their energy prices,” Ridenour added. “The Christopher Reynolds Foundation says it questions whether opposing regulations that raise energy costs on low-income Americans ‘is consistent with a commitment to integrity.’ Seriously – that’s its position. But we believe keeping energy costs as low as possible for low-income people is a good thing, and we suspect most investors do, too. So we call on Pfizer investors to vote DOWN the Christopher Reynolds Foundation proposal, which is Item #4 on the Pfizer proxy statement, and in so doing, vote UP the views and interests of the American people.”
Next Monday, Honeywell’s investors will face a similar proposal being moved by the City of Philadelphia Public Employees Retirement System and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Pension Benefit Fund. Their proposal is on page 90 of the Honeywell proxy statement.
“This proposal is nothing more than an attempt to use Honeywell as a tool to continue the left’s tired tripe that ALEC is some boogeyman to be feared,” said Danhof. “The proponents are part of an effort that is actively working to undermine America’s capitalistic roots and by extension Honeywell itself. As the Obama Administration continues to expand the regulatory state, ALEC’s market-based approaches to policy problems are needed now more than ever.”
The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project is the nation’s preeminent free-market activist group focused on corporations. 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.
The National Center has participated in eight shareholder meetings 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.