Conservative Shareholder Activist Group “Moderately Optimistic” J.C. Penney Will Protect Consumers from Costly Demands of Left-Wing Lobby Groups

Retail Giant CEO Pledges to Protect Consumers and Suppliers from Costly Left-Wing Demands

National Center for Public Policy Research Continues Campaign to Remind Corporations that Conservative Consumers Outnumber Liberals 2-1

Plano, TX/Washington, DC – Following his questioning of CEO Ron Johnson at today’s annual J.C. Penney shareholder meeting, National Center for Public Policy Research General Counsel Justin Danhof is “moderately optimistic” that J.C. Penney understands that the needs of its consumers outweigh the demands of left-wing lobbying groups.

Danhof asked Johnson about his company’s push for sustainability that may increase consumer prices and bankrupt small suppliers.

“Johnson replied that J.C. Penney considers the environment a ‘silent stakeholder’ in every company decision, however, he pledged that any environmental policy decisions that his company makes will be balanced against the interests of consumers and suppliers,” Danhof reported.

J.C. Penney is a member of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), one of the nation’s largest trade associations, representing more than 200 companies and many of the largest American retail chains. Recently, RILA issued the first ever industry-wide sustainability report in which it pressured its member organizations to reduce their environmental impact by reducing greenhouse gas usage, reducing carbon footprints, using recyclable materials and packaging and many other “green” policies. Left-wing lobbying organizations have been pressuring retailers to adopt so-called “environmental sustainability” standards without regard to their impact on consumer “financial sustainability.”

“RILA and its member companies are trying to import a European-style green program into every aspect of the American retail system. This self-imposed regulation an attempt to appease liberal environmentalists.” said Danhof. “Reasonable environmental protection is good, but when do left-wing environmental organizations ever stop at ‘reasonable’?”

“Even though he is new to J.C. Penney, Johnson said he had already spent significant time working with his company’s suppliers towards environmental goals and planned to work with suppliers, not against them, to implement any new sustainability standards,” concluded Danhof. “Time will tell whether Johnson stays true to his word to work with all of his suppliers. Small suppliers and consumer spending are important to both J.C. Penney and the overall economy, and J.C. Penney should stay on the side of its customers.”

“In the past week, the National Center for Public Policy Research has attended the shareholder meetings of Gap, Inc. and CVS Caremark to ask their CEOs if they will stand up to ‘voluntary mandated standards,'” added Amy Ridenour, chairman and co-CEO of the National Center, “and we’re just getting started. Corporations must learn that caving in to the left gets them pummeled by the right. Some corporations learn easy. Some prefer hard.”

“The American people are largely unaware that left-wing special interest groups have made it a priority to harass business executives into surrendering to the left’s agenda, regardless of the cost to consumers,” continued Ridenour. “We see that in action when the Retail Industry Leaders Association adopts ‘voluntary’ standards destined to become the private equivalent of the ruinously-expensive cap-and-trade anti-global warming scheme the Obama Administration pushed for, but even the Democrat Senate refused to adopt. We also see it in action when major corporations such as Procter and Gamble, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, McDonalds, Wendy’s, Kraft Foods, Mars Candy, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Yum! Brands (owner of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut), Intuit and others flee from working with a conservative group of state legislators at the behest of a tiny fringe-left group, just because they’re afraid.”

On May 17, the National Center released a new poll conducted for it by The Polling Company May 10-13 showing consumers disapprove of Yum! Brands boycotting the conservative state legislators’ group.

Ridenour further notes that conservatives vastly outnumber liberals. “According to Gallup, 40 percent of the public considers itself ‘conservative,’ and 21 percent, ‘liberal.’ Those who say they are ‘very liberal’ – which the groups pressuring corporations from the left are – represent only six percent. If it comes to a showdown, why would a corporation want to offend 94 million conservative adult consumers to please 14 million very liberal ones? I suspect the answer is they hope to appease the left without the right finding out. The National Center is on the job making sure there’s no chance of that.”

A copy of Justin Danhof’s question to J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson, as prepared for delivery, can be found here. No audio/video of the J.C. Penney shareholder meeting has been available on the company website. To learn more about RILA’s sustainability push from its own perspective, go here.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a J.C. Penney shareholder.

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. In 2011 it received over 350,000 individual donations. Two percent of its revenue comes from corporate sources. Contributions to it are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.


The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.