Category: Shareholder Activism

I’m not entirely sure, but it seems a safe bet that Chicago bluesman Willie Dixon wasn’t referring to the Internal Revenue Service when he wrote his classic “Back Door Man.” But, as it turns out, the IRS is serving as a convenient back-door resource for the progressive movement to name and shame donors to causes and organizations opposed by leftist shareholder activists.

The IRS is proposing rules that will grant nonprofit organizations the option of disclosing donors of $250 or more.

Currently, charitable organizations are required to remit a “contemporaneous written acknowledgment” (CWA) to donors contributing $250 or more in cash, goods or services. Donors reference the CWA when filing an IRS 990 form for charitable contributions. The proposed rules would grant organizations the option of collecting donors’ Social Security numbers rather than remitting a CWA, and subsequently sending the donors’ information to the IRS.

Readers shouldn’t take your writer’s word on such an important manner. A more authoritative source is the National Association of Nonprofits, an organization comprised of state associations as well as more than 25,000 individual members, and the U.S. Government Accountability Office. (more…)

The recent decline in oil prices is a boon for consumers but a bust for oil companies. Collectively, profits of the four supermajors – Royal Dutch Shell PLC; Exxon Mobil Corp.; Chevron Corp.; and BP PLC – have plummeted 70 percent in the first nine months of 2015, according to the Wall Street Journal. Despite a “precipitous drop in profits this year,” the supermajors increased stock dividends 10 percent over 2014, disbursing approximately $28 billion to shareholders.

For the time being, that’s good news for investors unless the shareholders happen to be among the universities and religious members of the fossil-fuel divestment crowd. This group includes the always headline-grabbing college and university activists (10.9 percent), philanthropic foundations (31 percent) and faith-based organizations (25 percent). These figures are culled from the National Association of Scholars’ “Inside Divestment: The Illiberal Movement to Turn a Generation Against Fossil Fuels,” which was released this week. NAS is a New York City-based nonprofit dedicated to “the promotion and preservation of high academic standards in teaching and scholarship.” From the NAS Executive Summary:

The idea of fossil fuel divestment grew out of a college student campaign at Swarthmore College., the main organization supporting divestment, emerged at Middlebury College. At least one student-run organization, the Fossil Fuel Divestment Student Network, supports divestment campaigns. But much of the organizational and intellectual framework comes from professional environmental activists and environmentalist organizations that train college students and put them forward as the face of the movement.


NUNReligious shareholder activists egging on a federal investigation of ExxonMobil include the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment, which counts the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell, New Jersey, among its faith-based members. The narrative promulgated by the activists is that the energy giant conducted climate-change research and buried the results when the data inconveniently proved burning fossil fuels was a major contributor.

All this might be a tempest in a teapot if not for Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) pressing U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to prosecute ExxonMobil under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act following the so-called “revelations” reported by the Los Angeles Times and, to a more sensationalistic extreme, Inside Climate News. As noted in a previous post, presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley also are on board, not to mention former Vice President and inconvenient truth teller Al Gore. Of course, this onslaught aimed at ExxonMobil is timed to coincide with the upcoming United Nations Conference of Parties (COP21) in December.

The Tri-State Coalition’s website admits as much: (more…)

Green AmericaEnvironmental activists representing some 50 seemingly disparate groups are calling on U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to conduct a criminal investigation of ExxonMobil for allegedly misleading the public on climate change. Boy howdy, when a representative from The Foundation of Women in Hip Hop aligns her agenda with Green America, the Natural Resources Defense Council and a whole bunch of clergy and religious you can bet the farm there’s an open-and-shut federal case against any company foolish enough to stand in their way.

Here’s the text of the letter:

Dear Attorney General Lynch,

As leaders of some of the nation’s environmental, indigenous peoples and civil rights groups, we’re writing to ask that you initiate a federal probe into the conduct of ExxonMobil. New revelations in the Los Angeles Times and the Pulitzer-prize-winning InsideClimate News strongly suggest that the corporation knew about the dangers of climate change even as it funded efforts at climate denial and systematically misled the public.

Given the damage that has already occurred from climate change—particularly in the poorest communities of our nation and our planet—and that will certainly occur going forward, these revelations should be viewed with the utmost apprehension. They are reminiscent—though potentially much greater in scale—than similar revelations about the tobacco industry. (more…)

cop21-label_reduitHoo boy…the circus is coming to town. Paris is hosting the Conference of Parties (COP21) in December, that is, and the Big Top of big-government solutions to climate-change claims will, of course, include shareholder activists, many of them dressing up their progressive “sustainability” agendas with lots of churchy talk.

These activists are closely linked in a broad religious and secular campaign that in fact reduces shareholder value in support of “social justice” and other such ideological abstractions. For example, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility includes Boston Common Asset Management, LLC among its roster of Associate Members. According to its website,

Boston Common Asset Management is an experienced investment manager and leader in global sustainability initiatives. The firm’s unique investment process enhances conventional investment analysis with its proprietary Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) framework. The firm’s overall goal is to preserve and build capital by constructing diversified portfolios of high quality, sustainable stocks, with a keen focus on valuation, and to thereby outperform not only over a market cycle, but to achieve this with greater consistency and less volatility than market benchmarks.

Readers, please, feel free to scoff. It was impossible for your writer to refrain from chortling himself, and his bathrobe is still moist from the coffee snorted, in the manner of the late Danny Thomas, down the front. For those not in on the joke (here’s a clue for you all: I boldfaced the punch line above), I give you this, from an essay by BCAM’s Lauren Compere published Wednesday at the Huffington Post: (more…)

The network of leftist shareholder activism is complex and wide-ranging. In the name of progressive causes, they pressure companies to forfeit profitability, reduce investment returns, raise costs to customers and threaten both actual and potential jobs.

It’s heartbreaking that religious shareholder groups not only willingly but passionately lend their support to secular causes promoted by US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment and Ceres. As I have noted previously, both organizations count religious shareholder groups among their respective membership rosters despite the harmful effects of US SIF and Ceres initiatives listed above.

Both US SIF and Ceres are members of Green America, a nonprofit boasting its “mission is to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.” Sigh. (more…)

Global warming alarmists at the U.S. Department of Energy are seeking to harsh Halloween’s mellow this year. The DOE’s website this week features stories on costuming children as solar panels and methane emissions from rotting jack-o’-lanterns contributing to climate change.

I’m not kidding. It seems there’s no limit to the scarifying lengths some will go in their predictions for climate catastrophe. For example, Ceres – an organization that “mobilizes a powerful network of investors, companies and public interest groups to accelerate and expand the adoption of sustainable business practices and solutions to build a healthy global economy” – is attempting to unite its extensive member roster behind its efforts to force companies in which they invest to report on greenhouse gas emissions. Writing in Institutional Investor, Ceres President Mindy Lubber warns failure in this effort will resort in a plague of weather events as bad as or worse than Hurricane Sandy without once mentioning the number and intensity of hurricanes have both declined since the late 1970s. Nor does she make any compelling connection between Sandy’s rampage and her dire predictions for our planet. (more…)