24 Apr 2017 General Electric Use of Investors’ Money to Fund Extremist Charities Under Scrutiny
Free Enterprise Project Seeks Support for Shareholder Proposal That Probes GE Donations to Clinton Foundation, Planned Parenthood and Center for American Progress
Why Should Shareholder Money Be Spent Funding Abortion Providers and Ethically Challenged Political Groups?
Asheville, NC / Washington, D.C. – The National Center for Public Policy Research, the nation’s leading proponent of free-market investor activism, is seeking support from General Electric’s investors for its 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. The proposal, submitted and sponsored by the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project (FEP), highlights instances in which GE’s charitable contributions may be doing more harm than good by damaging the company’s reputation.
GE’s shareholder meeting will be being held on Wednesday, April 26 at the GE Aviation facility in Asheville, North Carolina. This will be the ninth time a National Center representative has attended a GE shareholder meeting and the seventh corporate shareholder meeting that FEP has participated in so far in 2017.
“Why would GE donate to highly partisan organizations in this highly politicized environment? And why would GE risk alienating conservative, free-market and pro-life investors and customers by donating to some of the most extreme liberal organizations in America? Those are just some of the answers we are seeking with our proposal,” said National Center General Counsel and FEP Director Justin Danhof, Esq., who is set to represent the FEP at the meeting. “Pro-life investors shouldn’t have their shareholder money going to fund Planned Parenthood just as conservative investors shouldn’t be forced to subsidize the Center for American Progress or Planned Parenthood. If GE makes an honest assessment of our proposal, the company will be forced to explain why it thinks the risk of alienating those investors is somehow outweighed by the benefit of its controversial donations.”
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 previously 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 the Fox News Channel.
The National Center’s proposal asks General Electric to “provide an annual report. . . disclosing: the company’s standards for choosing recipients of company assets in the form of charitable contributions; the business rationale and purpose for each of the charitable contributions, if any; personnel participating in the decision to contribute; the benefits to society at-large produced by company contributions; and a follow-up report confirming the contribution was used for the purpose stated.”
The full text of the National Center’s proposal, and GE’s response to it, are available here. The National Center’s prepared statement in favor of the proposal is available here. Comments from the FEP after the meeting will be available here within hours of the conclusion of the meeting.
The FEP brought similar shareholder proposals before shareholders at Apple 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 an FEP proposal, GE proactively changed its corporate policy to protect employees from workplace retribution for private political activities. The FEP has 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. On April 26, while Danhof is at the General Electric meeting, National Center Vice President David W. Almasi will be participating in Coca-Cola’s shareholder meeting.
The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project activism has yielded a tremendous return on investment:
- FEP’s highly-publicized questioning of support for the Clinton Foundation by Boeing and General Electric helped trigger an FBI investigation of the Clinton Foundation’s 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 FEP’s challenges, which helped to bring about more objective reporting and more balanced political representation.
- FEP’s “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 Tribune among many others. The Free Enterprise Project was also featured in Wall Street Journal writer Kimberley Strassel’s 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.