For Release: February 23, 2016
Contact: Judy Kent at (703) 759-7476 or cell (703) 477-7476 or [email protected]
Pro-Liberty Resolutions to Be Presented to John Deere and Apple Investors This Week
National Center for Public Policy Research Asks John Deere Investors to Support Its Call for Increased Transparency Surrounding the Company's Anti-Free Market Policy Activities
National Center's Proposal to Apple's Shareholders Highlights Dangers of Corporate America's Fight Against Religious Freedom
Moline, IL / Cupertino, CA / Washington, D.C. - At tomorrow's annual meeting of John Deere shareholders in Moline, Illinois, and Friday's annual meeting of Apple shareholders in Cupertino, California, The National Center for Public Policy Research will present two different shareholder proposals aimed at advancing corporate transparency and religious liberty.
"For far too many years, corporate America has been lending its voice, money and power to liberal politicians, causes and organizations. From ObamaCare to gay marriage to federal energy policy, the past seven years of the Obama Administration has coincided with an expansive growth of corporate statism and corporate liberalism," said National Center Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, Esq. "While the exponential growth of cronyism has coincided with President Obama's time in office, it isn't coincidental. The National Center's Free Enterprise Project will bring the fight for liberty to corporate America in earnest this year. The battle starts this week."
On Wednesday, Danhof will present the National Center's shareholder proposal to John Deere's investors at the company's annual meeting in Moline, Illinois. The proposal, titled "Political Spending Congruency Analysis," asks the company to report to shareholders when Deere decides to fund or work with anti-capitalist groups or politicians.
"Deere has often taken actions that run counter to its duties as a for-profit, publicly-held company," said Danhof. "For example, when liberal politicians in Washington, D.C. needed corporate support for their repeated attempts to shackle the economy with cap-and-trade schemes on carbon emissions, John Deere happily obliged. However, after the National Center's Free Enterprise Project ran advertisements highlighting the economic pitfalls of a federal cap-and-trade program, Deere withdrew from the corporate lobbying coalition supporting such a plan."
The National Center's proposal also criticizes John Deere for kowtowing to radical liberal groups and withdrawing from the American Legislative Exchange Council, noting that:
[D]espite the fact that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) works to foster a low-regulation business-friendly environment, the Company publicly ended its affiliation with ALEC in 2012 at a time when anti-free-market activists were perpetuating falsehoods about ALEC and its activities.
"Deere's leaders are free to continue supporting anti-capitalist politicians and causes," said Danhof. "We just think that they should tell the company's investors when they do so. That way, the investing public can make an informed decision. That's why we urge all John Deere shareholders to support our proposal."
The National Center's complete shareholder resolution, and John Deere's response to it, can be found on pages 67 and 68 of the company's proxy statement - which is available for download here.
John Deere's lawyers attempted to remove the National Center's proposal from its proxy statement; however, the National Center's legal team prevailed in its arguments before the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and won the right to place the proposal before the company's shareholders for a vote.
The entire legal exchange between John Deere and the National Center, along with the SEC's decision, can be downloaded here.
At Friday's annual meeting of Apple shareholders, scheduled to take place at the company's headquarters in Cupertino, California, Danhof will present a stockholder proposal as part of the National Center's Religious Freedom Defense Initiative.
The National Center's Religious Freedom Defense Initiative is working to correct the record about religious freedom laws. The National Center's proposal to Apple highlights the company's hypocrisy on the issue of religious freedom and points out the adverse effects on shareholder value that can occur when corporate leaders speak out on issues about which they have no expertise.
Last spring, Apple CEO Tim Cook joined with many corporate executives and much of the liberal media in attacking Americans of faith. Writing in the Washington Post, Cook falsely claimed that attempts to enact religious freedom laws in Arkansas and Indiana "would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors."
"Cook is simply wrong on the law," notes Danhof. "The federal government and 31 states have heightened religious freedom laws and none of them legalize discrimination against anyone. What Mr. Cook did was taint Apple's brand with extreme anti-religious bigotry. American society was set up to protect discreet and insular minorities. Today, that has become an Indiana pizza shop and small cake bakers who simply want to practice their religion and not be forced by the government to break their covenants with their Creator. Cook has joined with the mob in trying to destroy them."
Despite Cook's outlandish attacks on religious liberty here in the homeland, Apple actually does business in many countries where homosexuality is outlawed and homosexuals are imprisoned and even killed. The National Center proposal drives this hypocrisy home, stating:
CEO [Cook] bashed state-level religious freedom laws as anti-homosexual bigotry saying, "Apple is open. Open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love. Regardless of what the law might allow in Indiana or Arkansas, we will never tolerate discrimination." Yet, according to the Washington Post, Apple has a presence in 17 countries where homosexual acts are illegal. In four of those nations, homosexual acts are punishable by death. These company operations are inconsistent with Apple's values as extolled by our CEO.
The proponent believes that Apple's record to date demonstrates a gap between its lofty rhetoric / aspirations and its performance.
The National Center's complete shareholder resolution, and Apple's response to it, can be found on pages 62 and 63 of the company's proxy statement - which is available for download here.
Apple's lawyers also petitioned the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission seeking to block the National Center's proposal. However, the National Center's legal team prevailed in convincing the SEC that its proposal was so significant that the company's shareholders should have a say on the matter.
The entire legal exchange between Apple and the National Center, along with the SEC's decision, can be downloaded here.
The National Center'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. In 2014-15, National Center representatives participated in 69 shareholder meetings advancing 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. This week's John Deere and Apple meetings mark its first and second shareholder meetings of 2016.
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 free issue alerts here or follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter.