30 Apr 2010 General Electric CEO Challenged at Stockholder Meeting; Asked to Explain Extreme Attacks on Conservatives by GE-Owned MSNBC; About Company Lobbying for Cap-and-Trade; About the Cost of ObamaCare
Washington, DC – General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt was challenged on numerous national policy issues at General Electric’s annual stockholder meeting this week.
The questions from David Ridenour, Dr. Tom Borelli and Deneen Borelli of the National Center for Public Policy Research, who inquired about:
* extreme attacks on conservatives by the GE-owned MSNBC,
* GE’s extensive lobbying for cap-and-trade,
* the possibility of a conservative/Republican backlash against GE,
* how much the adoption of ObamaCare will cost GE;
* any GE lobbying for ObamaCare.
The National Center for Public Policy Research owns GE stock.
“MSNBC, part of GE’s NBC Universal, runs programming that is offensive to a substantial portion of the population. Keith Olbermann has called the Tea Party movement the ‘Tea Klux Klan’ and has said the Republican Party wants to re-impose Jim Crow Laws,” said David Ridenour, vice president of the National Center. “Whatever your political outlook, I said [to Immelt], this doesn’t make sense for GE… I also asked what he was doing to address the perception — especially among conservatives — that GE stands against them. Quite a bit of applause followed. Immelt didn’t answer but went to the next question.”
Later, Ridenour asked the same question, noting he never received a reply the first time. Immelt said GE has never attempted to influence the programming of its news or public affairs programs. Immelt repeated that when specifically asked about an April 16, 2009 New York Post Page Six story reporting that a three-hour meeting took place between Immelt and top CNBC executives and on-air talent for the purpose of making sure CNBC had not become “too conservative.”
“I asked Immelt about GE’s support of cap-and-trade and the letter from its political action committee that stated Waxman-Markey would good for its business,” said Tom Borelli, director of the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project. “I specifically asked how much money GE was going to make if cap-and-trade passes. Immelt responded that he did not know, and I told him that was a joke. My second question was focused on the political risk of GE/Immelt being so closely associated with the Obama Administration. I added that stopping cap-and-trade is highly ranked on the Tea Party’s ‘Contract for America,’ and by pushing against the movement the company could experience reputational and political risk. Finally, I mentioned there could be a backlash against GE if the House flips to Republicans. I asked Immelt if he is concerned about or measures political risk. He didn’t acknowledge a political risk.”
In light of John Deere and Caterpillar having to write off expenses against their earnings because of ObamaCare, Deneen Borelli of Project 21 asked Immelt how much ObamaCare will cost GE. “Immelt had Chief Financial Officer and Vice Chairman Keith Sherin respond, and he said the amount was $15 million for first quarter 2010 and additional costs going forward… My final question was did GE lobby for ObamaCare? Immelt said they did not individually lobby on health care and that their position was covered through the Business Roundtable,” said Deneen Borelli.
The National Center for Public Policy Research has questioned Mr. Immelt in the past. Go here for a video of Fox’s Bill O’Reilly interviewing Tom Borelli about the 2008 GE stockholder meeting and here for information about news reports detailing Jeff Immelt’s alleged retaliation.
The National Center For Public Policy Research is a conservative, free-market non-profit think-tank established in 1982. It is supported by the voluntary gifts of over 100,000 individual recent supporters, and receives less than one percent of its revenue from corporate sources.