Launched in 2007, the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project focuses on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. The Free Enterprise Project (FEP) is the conservative movement’s only full-service shareholder activism and education program: It files shareholder resolutions, engages corporate CEOs and board members at shareholder meetings, petitions the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for interpretative guidance, and sponsors effective media campaigns to create the incentives for corporations to stay focused on their missions.
As the leading voice for conservative-minded investors, FEP annually files more than 90 percent of all right-of-center shareholder resolutions. Dozens of liberal organizations, however, annually file more than 95 percent of all policy-oriented shareholder resolutions and continue to exert undue influence over corporate America.
Through the years, FEP has been a leading voice for the conservative investor on a divergent range of topics including: health care, immigration, gun rights, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, federalism, corporate free speech, ideological diversity, voter integrity, freedom of conscience, property rights, workers’ rights and other important public policy issues.
The Free Enterprise Project is also the nation’s leading program for confronting liberal shareholder activism.
Scott Shepard is a fellow at the National Center as well as the director of the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project, the conservative movement’s only full-service shareholder activism and education program.
Scott has taught at law schools including the Wake Forest School of Law in North Carolina and the Willamette University College of Law in Oregon. He is the author of the legal textbook Wills, Trusts and Estates in Context.
He previously served as a policy director with the Yankee Institute in Connecticut and the manager of the Water Law Project at the Pacific Legal Institute. He also has experience in government and private practice.
Scott earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Virginia, a master’s degree from Vanderbilt University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Richmond.
From 2012-2021, National Center Executive Vice President Justin Danhof, Esq,. served as the Director of the Free Enterprise Project. During that time, he filed dozens of shareholder resolutions and attended over 100 shareholder meetings carrying a sharp spear for liberty. As Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel noted in her 2016 political bestseller, The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech, “If you’ve never been to a corporate shareholder meeting, you’ve likely never heard of Justin Danhof. If you ever have been to one, you’ll likely never forget him.” Strassel spent a full chapter in her book detailing Danhof’s shareholder activism and fight for liberty.
Mr. Danhof’s legal expertise has come in handy during the filing of shareholder resolutions. Corporations often hire outside attorneys from the nation’s leading law firms and petition the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission seeking to vacate our proposals. Companies often accrue six-figure legal bills fighting FEP proposals. Danhof single-handedly takes on these white-shoe law firms and regularly defeats lawyers that singly-handedly earn 30-times more per year than FEP’s entire annual budget.
In some years, Danhof has had a 66 percent success rate – a ratio that is relatively unheard of in front of the corporate-friendly judges at the SEC.
Since 2012, Danhof has participated in over 100 shareholder meetings to advance free-market ideals in health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and other important public policy issues.
Danhof’s work has generated a tremendous amount of media coverage.
FEP's questioning of Boeing's and General Electric's support for the Clinton Foundation helped trigger an FBI investigation into the Foundation's activities.
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.
Just days after FEP's questioning of Disney CEO Bob Iger over biased commentary at Disney-owned ESPN generated significant media, including coverage by The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Reuters, USA Today, and Fox Business, ESPN issued new guidelines for political commentary by its on-air talent.
After Danhof questioned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the company's anti-conservative bias in its news feeds, the company changed its policy by removing humans in place of a more neutral algorithm.
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes vowed to earn our trust after being chastised by FEP over CNN's proclivity for media bias and fake news. He promised to recommit to independence. Two weeks later, CNN fired three reporters involved in a false report about Anthony Scaramucci.
CNBC's Jim Cramer, Investor's Business Daily, and Motley Fool all questioned the wisdom of continued investment in Apple after CEO Tim Cook announced at an annual meeting that he didn't care about ``bloody ROI (return on investment).`` His statement came in response to questioning by our FEP over the company's support for regulation.
FEP personnel have been repeatedly ushered into private meetings with CEOs of some of the largest corporations in the world, such as PepsiCo.
After FEP appealed directly to then-CEO Alan Mulally to withdraw Ford from the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a group that lobbies for stringent greenhouse gas regulations, Ford dropped its membership.
After FEP filed a shareholder proposal with General Electric over the company's foray into alternative energy programs, the company agreed to amend its corporate policies to only engage in green energy initiatives if the executives could identify a legitimate business purpose.
Under pressure from FEP, Google dropped its ``Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal`` campaign and also eliminated its ``green czar`` position.
Since 2012, the Free Enterprise Project has generated more than 10,000 media citations. FEP work has been cited or published by outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco, Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, USA Today, Variety, the Associated Press, Bloomberg, Drudge Report, Business Insider, Investor’s Business Daily, Time, Fortune, the Rush Limbaugh Show, National Public Radio, SiriusXM, CBS News, the Fox News Channel, the Fox Business Channel, NewsMaxTV, One America News Network and hundreds more.
“The National Center for Public Policy Research’s Justin Danhof once noted: ‘Corporations that cave to the left only place a bigger target on their backs.’ … Danhof has it right.”
-John Merline of Investor’s Business Daily detailing FEP’s work
Los Angeles Times (2013)
“Robert Iger faced tough questioning about alleged liberal bias at Disney-owned ABC News and ESPN… Iger conceded… “making mistakes.”
– Daniel Miller on Justin Danhof’s questioning of Disney CEO Robert Iger
Motley Fool (2013)
“I… suggest that investors refrain from buying shares of Walgreens until… [he] can provide a solid answer.
– Motley Fool’s Gene Kropowski pressing Walgreens’ CEO Greg Wasson to answer Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof’s question on whether low prices or sustain- ability are the higher priority
San Francisco Chronicle (2016)
“[UC Davis professor Leticia] Saucedo thinks the Free Enterprise Project’s campaign is a good idea…”
-A labor law professor endorses our “Freedom of Conscience” shareholder proposal
[The Free Enterprise Project] is turning the shareholder resolution process into a tool for shaming companies for taking on climate change. It’s a turnabout of the tactic long used by environmental activists…think of it as Greenpeace standing on its head.”
“Led by the National Center for Public Policy Research, [conservatives] are starting to imitate the liberals’ tactics by sponsoring initiatives at corporate board meetings… to act as a counterweight… [and] push conservative causes such as lower taxes and smaller government.”