31 May 2013 National Center for Public Policy Research Completes Activity at 32nd Shareholder Meeting of 2013
Group Holds Corporate CEOs Who Support the Left Accountable – and Supports Those Who Defend the Free Market
Dallas, TX / Washington, D.C. – The National Center for Public Policy Research completed activity at its 32nd corporate shareholder meeting of 2013 this week, as President David Ridenour completed a presentation at the ExxonMobil shareholder meeting in Dallas a few days after appearing at the Home Depot meeting in Atlanta.
At ExxonMobil in Dallas, Ridenour spoke against shareholder proposal #7, sponsored by the United Steelworkers, calling on ExxonMobil to annually release what Ridenour called “an extraordinary level of detail in company lobbying disclosures” and to disclose its “membership in and payments to any tax-exempt organization that writes and endorses model legislation.”
At Home Depot in Atlanta, Ridenour asked Home Depot executives where they stood on the issue of trade associations developing mandatory “sustainability” standards for its members – standards they would be required to impose of their suppliers.
At ExxonMobil, Ridenour called the United Steelworkers’ proposal “a barely-veiled attempt to make it difficult for the company to work with… the American Legislative Exchange Council, better known as ALEC, a 40-year-old non-partisan, non-profit organization that facilitates collaboration on issues important to all of us among thousands of state legislators in all 50 states.” Ridenour said special interests dependent on government have been pressuring corporations to boycott ALEC “because ALEC shares good ideas in… important policy areas from a perspective that seeks to keep government small and accountable to the people, and our personal and corporate taxes low.” He urged shareholders to vote against the anti-ALEC proposal, which ultimately failed, 25%-75%. An audio recording of Ridenour’s comments is available here.
At Home Depot, Ridenour noted that Home Depot is a member of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), a trade association involved in a potentially massive market- and labor-distorting “sustainability” campaign under which it advocates that members make capital expenditures that have limited prospects for a reasonable return, recommends that members lobby for changes in local building codes that would have broad impacts on communities, and promotes top-down “sustainability” standards that ultimately may require retailers to place mandatory standards on their suppliers, raising costs and disadvantaging small businesses. Ridenour had an agreeable exchange with CEO Frank Blake during the meeting, and a more specific and useful one afterward with Blake and others in his executive team.
Also this week, National Center Free Enterprise Director Justin Danhof presented a proposal at the Merck annual meeting in New Jersey and also asked CEO Kenneth Frazier about the anticipated negative impact of President Obama’s Medicare proposal regarding “dual-eligibles” on pharmaceutical innovation. Last week, Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper asked Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos why Amazon sells the 10 most violent video games and movies but restricts sales of guns, gun parts and ammunition, and Justin Danhof asked the CEOs of Kraft Foods and Mondelez about the propriety of SNAP (food stamp) benefits covering non-nutritional foods.
The National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project has directly addressed the CEOs of nearly three dozen major U.S. corporations this year.
Some have been called to account for activities including 1) cronyist practices that suck money from taxpayers; 2) lobbying for bigger government; 3) imposing expensive private regulatory regimes on suppliers, often for greenwashing purposes, in the name of “sustainability,” 4) supporting the Obama Administration’s politicized anti-Second Amendment bandwagon, 5) bias and/or irresponsible inaccuracy in media content; and 6) caving in to left-wing demands, for example, demands to shun the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
Alternatively, some have been praised, such as ExxonMobil this week, for not caving in to anti-ALEC bullying, or for standing up for limited-government, free-market principles in other ways.
Still other CEOs, including several in the health care industry, have been asked public policy questions relating to their field.
The National Center representatives often have met privately with the CEOs of the corporation being visited either before or after the formal shareholder meeting.
A story by Andrew Evans of the Washington Free Beacon on May 3 summarized the National Center’s shareholder activism up to that date in a story that can be found here.
Meetings attended in 2013 so far include: Walgreens, Costco, Apple, John Deere, Disney, Honeywell, Exelon, Coca Cola, General Electric, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Harley Davidson, Boeing, Stryker, Sears, Pepsi, Duke Energy, Eli Lilly, Zimmer Holdings, Bristol Myers Squibb, Bank of America, Washington Post, Marriott, Comcast, Tiffany & Co., Mondelez, Kraft, Time Warner, Home Depot, Amazon, Merck and ExxonMobil.
Representatives of the National Center at these meetings, in addition to President David Ridenour, Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof and Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper, included Executive Director David Almasi, Risk Analysis Division Director Jeff Stier, Project 21 Co-Chairman Cherylyn Harley LeBon and Project 21’s Stacy Swimp.
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 4 percent from foundations, and less than 2 percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year. Contributions to The National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated. In 2012-13, zero percent of the National Center’s revenue has come from the fossil fuel industry or related foundations.
Contributions to The National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.