Category: Shareholder Proxy Resolutions

Previously this week, The Wall Street Journal presented a list of “7 Things Investors Should Be Watching for a 2016 Unfolds.” While there’s much in Michael A. Pollock’s article to recommend it to readers who might’ve missed it, there’s also one significant omission – Number Eight, if you will: A Rise in Proxy Resolutions by Religious Shareholder Activists.

Shortly after reading the WSJ article, your writer received an email from the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, the “corporate God-flies” who mask an actual leftist political agenda with their supposed faith-based concerns over social issues related to climate change and corporate spending on lobbying and politics. ICCR’s email announces the group’s increased efforts to stymie the best interests of the companies in which they invest in 2016 – without mentioning how their activities also negatively impact fellow shareholders as well as company customers and employees. Yet ICCR is undeterred in its efforts in a year thus far beset upon by great economic uncertainty and volatility:

Shareholder proposals on climate change and corporate lobbying and political spending head the list of 257 resolutions filed by ICCR members at 174 companies in the 2016 proxy season. Over one-third of total proposals this year are climate-related, including those related to corporate lobbying, revealing how climate change is viewed as a major risk for investors and engagements on how companies are mitigating these risks are taking on greater importance.

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From the time your writer opted to publicly proclaim his policy opinions in a variety of forums that are privately funded, he has incurred estrangement from ideologically opposed friends and family members, as well as receiving threatening emails and even frightening phone calls from complete strangers.

From the above experiences, it was easy to glean progressives can be very nasty (comments I receive often remark negatively on my choice of eyewear). Most tellingly, however, presume to know the private funding sources for the think tanks wherefrom much of my opinionated work emanates.

This last serves two purposes. The first is to discredit personal opinions as merely corporate or political propaganda. It’s a silly tactic to be sure, but one employed often against writers in the public sphere. The second is to name and shame any company or individual with which the progressives in question disagree. These enemies of debate, which include religious shareholder activists affiliated with As You Sow and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, cannot abide private giving to causes with which they disagree. (more…)

George Soros

George Soros

George Soros just donated another $6 million to Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s Super Political Action Committee, raising the total the billionaire has contributed thus far to her 2016 campaign to $7 million. Liberals and progressives who can be counted on to hyperventilate every time the Koch brothers drop a dollar into a Salvation Army drum haven’t made a peep. They’ve also been remarkably silent on other donations to Clinton’s Priorities USA SuperPac, including $5 million from Haim Saban and his wife Cheryl; $2.3 million from Laurie Woods; and $2.5 million from Donald Sussman.

And I shall join the liberals and progressives in their chorus of silence, because, unlike them, your writer prefers intellectual consistency. So, you go, George Soros! And, likewise, Mr. and Ms. Saban, Ms. Woods and Mr. Sussman. Last, but not least, let’s hear it for the Koch brothers! Because each and every one of the above-listed donors are exercising their First Amendment free-speech rights, which were girded by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

However, liberals and progressives don’t see it that way when donations don’t go their way. For example the left-leaning investors affiliated with religious shareholder activists As You Sow seemingly can’t abide corporate donations in the political game when it’s their respective ox that’s gored, namely anyone who disagrees with their views on climate change, social issues, genetically modified organisms and, you guessed it, Citizens United.

Here’s an example from an AYS proxy resolution submitted to DuPont: (more…)

Any number of meanings are attached to “the Kingdom of God” as an essential element of Jesus’ teaching for Christian praxis. Used as just another slogan for political activism, in which the shade of meaning is usually reconstructing Heaven on Earth along collectivist lines, has me tossing the theological yellow flag. Another way to put this futile and often dangerous exercise is immanentizing the eschaton. This business has raised many skeptics. From St. Thomas More we received the word “utopia,” which derives from the Greek for no-place. Samuel Butler reminds us in his Darwinian fantasy novel Erewhon that the title is really “nowhere” spelled backwards.

Apparently unfamiliar with the above concepts, writer Gabriela Romeri in Maryknoll Magazine describes shareholder activist priest Father Joseph La Mar as one of the “dedicated builders” committed to “constructing the Kingdom of God here on earth.” Your writer must confess he rubbed his eyes until they squeaked after reading the lead paragraph:

Constructing the Kingdom of God here on earth takes dedicated builders. “Most people are afraid to do this kind of work,” says Maryknoll Father Joseph La Mar of his ministry, promoting corporate social responsibility. “You just have to sit at the table and say what you have to say.” His work takes him to high-level board meetings of multinational corporations where he invokes the Gospel to voice ethical concerns in commerce.

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Enter at your discretion ... The 'Dark Money Zone'

Enter at your discretion … The ‘Dark Money Zone’

Poor Rod Serling. Had the Twilight Zone and Night Gallery host lived it’s assured he’d provide the voice talent for the audio book version of Jane Mayer’s Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires behind the Rise of the Radical Right. He’d also have a steady gig lending his portentous phrasings to such addle-brained prose as the following from the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility [readers may insert Serling’s “Submitted for your approval” at their discretion]:

Unchecked corporate cash in the form of political donations and lobbying expenditures has the power to exert undue influence over public policy and regulatory systems and threaten our democracy. Yet in spite of this power, most S&P 500 companies lack a formal system of lobbying oversight and don’t fully disclose how monies are being spent, particularly through third-party organizations like trade associations. Investors are concerned that lobbying expenditures may inadvertently be diverted to groups advancing agendas contrary to the stated missions of companies, setting up potential conflicts of interest and exposing companies to reputational risk.

Sigh. Mayer and ICCR are working both sides of their levitating, shaking bed of anti-First Amendment, anti-Citizens United paranoia with Mayer seeking political intervention on one side and ICCR haranguing corporate shareholders with proxy resolutions on the other. In the meantime, the Republic remains a bastion of the freedoms that conjure 24-hour night terrors for the author and the so-called “religiously motivated” shareholder activists.

The “dark money” bogeymen searched for under those quivering bedsprings share the last name Koch, and we just can’t have libertarian billionaires expressing free speech in the U.S. political system, according to Mayer, ICCR and a raft of other opponents that are hypocritically funded by progressive billionaires bearing names like George Soros, Bill Gates, Tom Steyer, Warren Buffett and Eric Schmidt – all noted by George Melloan in his review of Mayer’s book in the Wall Street Journal: (more…)

The progressive shareholder activists over at the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility have made it one of their core missions to move companies in which they invest away from fossil fuels – and bankrupting them if necessary. To achieve this goal, according to their website,

ICCR members seek to move companies along a “hierarchy of impact” that will gradually reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and advance their progress towards greater sustainability. Understanding its importance in driving the energy transition, ICCR members actively support climate legislation and regulation from the global to local level and seek greater disclosure around companies’ lobbying and political activites [sic] to ensure that they are consistent with stated policies on environmental issues. In addition, ICCR members are working to help educate the investment community as well as the corporations we work with about opportunities in climate financing that will help to build the coming green economy.

Readers will note that ICCR members seek legal and political enforcement to curtail or eliminate completely the use of fossil fuels, including circumventing First Amendment rights reinforced by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling. Additionally, they have a powerful ally in the White House who warned us all in 2008 his proposed energy policy would bankrupt the coal industry when he stated as a candidate for his first term: “So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

That warning has come to pass. According to an editorial titled “The Carnage in Coal Country” from the Wall Street Journal early last week: (more…)

A segment on yesterday’s CBS weekend news and entertainment program Sunday Morning informatively dealt with the controversy surrounding the use of genetically modified organisms. It’ll likely be the best 11 minutes of broadcast science journalism readers will view all week. The segment contrasts the relatively weak arguments presented by the anti-GMO crowd with the real-world benefits of GMOs for everyone, but especially those struggling from hunger in drought- or flood-ravaged areas and impoverished countries.

Two dots not connected in the otherwise outstanding piece are the misperceptions spread by the anti-GMO crowd and the negative impact that would have on companies forced to label their food products derived from GMOs. While CBS correspondent Barry Petersen reports an estimated 80 percent of food sold at U.S. supermarkets contain GMOs, he also notes 57 percent of Americans are skeptical about the safety of GMOs. Labeling safe food as containing GMOs may scare off consumers who can’t afford the higher-priced GMO alternatives.

Here’s hoping the anti-GMO shareholder activists at the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and As You Sow view Petersen’s excellent report. These activists are performing more actual harm than perceived good in their crusade against feeding the world.