09 Apr 2012 Conflict of Interest Concerns Escalate Over Apple Board Member Al Gore
Apple’s Fuel Cell Project Likely to Financially Benefit Gore’s Investment in Bloom Energy
New Concerns Follow Shareholder Proposal Calling for an Investigation of Gore
Washington, D.C. – The National Center for Public Policy Research, which submitted a shareholder proposal warning Apple, Inc. about potential conflicts of interest involving board member Al Gore in February, is today calling attention to a new potential conflict of interest directly involving Gore.
It has recently been revealed that Apple’s massive new North Carolina data center will be powered by fuel cell technology supplied by Bloom Energy, a company whose investors include the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, where Gore is a partner.
The 4.8-megawatt power facility is reported to be the biggest fuel cell facility ever built by a non-utility company. Fuel cell technology uses hydrogen or natural gas to generate electricity by an electro-chemical process that does not involve combustion of carbon-based fuels.
“Apple buying technology from Bloom Energy, where Gore has a financial stake, is a clear conflict of interest. Shareholders must question why Apple is choosing to pay a premium for alternative energy when there are many sources of cheaper energy available in North Carolina, such as coal,” said Tom Borelli, Ph.D., director of the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project.
This new concern follows another conflict of interest matter involving Gore. On behalf of the National Center for Public Policy Research, an Apple shareholder, Dr. Borelli presented a conflict of interest shareholder proposal at Apple’s annual shareholder meeting in February. The proposal highlighted concerns that Gore influenced Apple’s decision to end its membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in order to benefit Gore’s personal investments in alternative energy technology.
Apple’s management opposed the National Center’s proposal, which led to its defeat.
“We remain concerned that Gore is using his board position at Apple to get a financial return on his personal investments. First, we believe Gore played a role in making the company end its membership with the U.S. Chamber in an attempt to influence the trade group from lobbying against climate change regulations. Now Apple is reportedly investing millions of dollars in an alternative energy technology, with the money going to Bloom Energy, in which Gore’s firm has made significant investments,” said Dr. Borelli.
“Shareholders have a right to know if Gore is using his board position at Apple to bail out his personal investments in alternative energy and green technology. Renewable energy technology companies are proving to be bad investments, with a number of companies experiencing financial difficulties, including bankruptcies. Gore should be taking the financial risks with his personal investments, not Apple shareholders,” added Dr. Borelli.
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, receiving approximately one percent of its revenue from corporate sources. Contributions to it are tax-deductible.