22 Sep 2017 FedEx Targeted in “Fake Transparency” Scam
Investor Alert: All FedEx Corporation Shareholders Urged to Reject Proposal #7 on Company’s Proxy Statement
Shipping Giant Being Pressured by Organized Labor, Leftist Investors to Sever Ties With U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Legislative Exchange Council
Memphis, TN / Washington, D.C. – In advance of the FedEx Corporation’s annual meeting of shareholders, the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project (FEP) – the nation’s leading proponent of free-market investor activism – urges all FedEx shareholders to vote against a proposal that promotes “fake transparency” and could threaten freedom of speech and betray the company’s best business interests.
“Freedom of speech and freedom of association are under attack by a well-funded, well-organized campaign of liberal activist investors. The American left was once a champion of free speech, but – as they lose ground on policy debates – they have increasingly become opponents of these once widely-respected rights,” said National Center General Counsel and FEP Director Justin Danhof, Esq., who is set to represent the organization at the meeting. “This leftist coalition is now hoping to co-opt FedEx into its anti-speech fold by asking it to disassociate from pro-business organizations. FedEx should steel its spine against such attacks and its investors should reject this movement outright.”
At the FedEx shareholder meeting, to be held at the company’s world headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee on September 25, investors will vote on a proposal sponsored by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters General Fund and Investor Voice (representing the Equality Network Foundation). Proposal #7 calls on the company to disclose all policies and “direct and indirect” payments for “grassroots lobbying communications” and to reveal its affiliations with non-profit groups. Despite claims that “full disclosure” is in shareholders’ best interests to monitor the company’s “expressed goals,” FEP notes transparency demands are a common tactic used by leftist political activists to curtail freedom of speech. The obvious intention is to target FedEx’s affiliations with conservative groups. Proposal #7 specifically names the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – groups FedEx works with to advance shareholder interests.
FEP opposed similar proposals this year at the annual meetings of Eli Lilly, Boeing and Disney. It has also questioned corporate executives and filed shareholder proposals at companies such as General Electric and Boeing for explanations about how charitable donations match company goals. At the FedEx meeting, Danhof will argue the proposal has no relevance to fulfilling corporate goals and is simply a means to censor those that the leftist activists cannot otherwise censor because of constitutional protections of free speech.
FEP warned about this very issue at the 2012 FedEx shareholder meeting. At that time, FedEx CEO Fred Smith responded that “we would be irresponsible if we did not participate in public policy matters… [and] we support those organizations who are in general alignment with the company’s interests.” FedEx opposes Proposal #7.
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, its representatives have participated in over 100 shareholder meetings to advance free-market ideals in health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and other important public policy issues. 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. FEP’s questioning of Boeing’s and General Electric’s support for the Clinton Foundation helped trigger an FBI investigation into the Foundation’s activities. Executives put on the spot by FEP at ABC News (Disney), the Washington Post and CNN (Time Warner) meetings acknowledged media bias.
Monday’s meeting will mark the twenty-first shareholder meeting FEP has participated in during the 2017 shareholder season.
FEP activity this year has been covered by media outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Variety, the Associated Press, Bloomberg, Drudge Report, Business Insider, National Public Radio and SiriusXM. FEP’s work 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 60,000 active recent contributors. Tax-deductible donations to support the National Center’s programs are greatly appreciated and can be made here. 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.