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.
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 Foundation. 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.
Sarah Rehberg is the Deputy Director of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project.
She most recently held several leadership positions at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security including serving as an Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security in the Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans. She also served as a Counselor to the Deputy Secretary.
Prior to joining the Executive Branch, Sarah worked as an attorney at a non-profit legal organization, and has experience leading federal, state, and local legislative and regulatory teams in the non-profit sector. She also has experience on Capitol Hill, having previously worked as a Legislative Assistant and Counsel in the U.S. House of Representatives.
She received her J.D. from the University of the Pacific, where she focused in Public Law and Policy and spent time in both the California Attorney General’s Office and the Governor’s Office of Legal Affairs. She received her B.A. with distinction from the University of Michigan in Political Science.
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.
Investor’s Business Daily (April 2017)
“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.”