24 Apr 2017 Coca-Cola’s Human Rights Hypocrisy: Why Does Soda Leader Criticize American Religious Freedom Laws While Doing Business in Nations Lacking Basic Civil Liberties?
All Coca-Cola Investors Urged to Vote for Free Enterprise Project’s Shareholder Proposal That Calls out Coke’s Human Rights Duplicity
Soft Drink Leader’s Allegiance with Fringe Anti-Religious Group Called into Question
Atlanta, GA / Washington, D.C. – The National Center for Public Policy Research, the nation’s leading proponent of free-market investor activists, is calling on all Coca-Cola investors to approve its shareholder resolution that exposes Coca-Cola’s hypocritical treatment of civil liberties. The proposal, submitted by the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project (FEP), questions why the soft drink giant opposes religious liberty in the United States on alleged civil rights pretenses while simultaneously maintaining operations in numerous nations lacking those same rights.
Coca-Cola’s shareholder meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, Georgia. This will be the sixth time a National Center representative has attended a Coca-Cola shareholder meeting, and the sixth corporate shareholder meeting that the FEP has participated in so far in 2017.
“Coca-Cola’s attacks on Americans of faith have gone under the radar for far too long,” said National Center Vice President David W. Almasi, who is set to represent the FEP at the meeting and has participated in past Coca-Cola shareholder meetings. “Coca-Cola operates in countries where governments consider homosexuality a crime. Yet it allied with a radical pressure group, Georgia Prospers, to stop the Peach State’s religious freedom bill it falsely claimed persecuted homosexuals. It’s inconsistent, and the company’s error in judgment here is compounded by apparent silence abroad. We are simply asking Coca-Cola to justify its actions.”
The National Center’s proposal “requests the board of directors review the company’s guidelines for selecting countries/regions for its operations and issue a report. . . [to] identify Coca-Cola’s criteria for investing in, operating in and withdrawing from high-risk regions.” It is the only proposal for consideration by shareholders not being offered by Coca-Cola itself.
The full text of the National Center’s proposal, and Coca-Cola’s response to it, are available on page 81 of the company’s proxy statement, which is available for download here. The text of its prepared statement in favor of the proposal can be found here. Comments from the FEP after the meeting will be also be available on the site here within hours of the conclusion of the meeting.
The National Center’s FEP brought similar shareholder proposals before shareholders at Apple, Eli Lilly, General Electric and Walmart in 2016. It also raised religious freedom issues with executives of Home Depot, Nike, PepsiCo and Red Hat. This is also not the first time the FEP has promoted a shareholder proposal at a Coca-Cola meeting. In 2016, the FEP asked Coca-Cola shareholders to consider a proposal for the company to issue a congruency analysis to point out and justify potentially questionable affiliations and contributions on the part of the company. The FEP has been attending Coca-Cola shareholder meetings since 2012.
“By opposing Georgia’s religious freedom legislation, Coca-Cola opposed the kind of protections inherent in our nation’s founding principles and later advocated by the likes of Ted Kennedy. Yet the company does business in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and other places where homosexuality is discriminated against to the extent it is punishable by death,” added Almasi. “This disconnect in policy cannot be overlooked. The Free Enterprise Project, as an advocate for the company’s shareholders, is asking company executives to justify their decisions.”
“If Coca-Cola wants to go after religious Americans, it’s no longer going to do so with impunity,” said National Center General Counsel and FEP Director Justin Danhof, Esq. “Either the company is opposed to religious freedom everywhere or it only opposes religious freedom here in the United States as a means to score political points with the anti-religious left. If the company were to honestly answer our proposal, all Coca-Cola investors would know if the company was truly anti-religious or simply hypocritical for political reasons. Those are the only two potential explanations for the company’s actions.”
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, National Center representatives have participated in nearly 100 shareholder meetings to advance free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and many other important public policy issues. The Coca-Cola meeting marks FEP’s sixth shareholder meeting attended so far in 2017. On April 26, while Almasi is at the Coca-Cola meeting, Danhof will be participating in General Electric’s shareholder meeting.
The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project activism has yielded a tremendous return on investment:
- FEP’s highly-publicized questioning of support for the Clinton Foundation by Boeing and General Electric helped trigger an FBI investigation of the Clinton Foundation’s activities that dominated the 2016 presidential campaign.
- FEP inquiries prompted Facebook to address political bias against conservatives in social media.
- Company executives acknowledged media bias at ABC News (Disney), the Washington Post and CNN (Time Warner) in response to FEP’s challenges, which helped to bring about more objective reporting and more balanced political representation.
- 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.
So far in 2017, the FEP has been featured in media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Variety, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Breitbart, WorldNetDaily, Drudge Report, Business Insider, CNET, National Public Radio, American Family Radio and SiriusXM. In 2016, the FEP was also featured in the Washington Times, the Fox News Channel’s “Cavuto,” the Financial Times, Crain’s Chicago Business, the Hollywood Reporter, the Los Angeles Times, Fortune, Newsmax, the Daily Caller, Lifezette, the Seattle Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Chicago Tribune among many others. The Free Enterprise Project 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 96,000 active recent contributors. 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.