For Release: February 28, 2017
Contact: Judy Kent at (703) 759-7476 or cell (703) 477-7476 or [email protected]
Apple's Hypocrisy? Company's Charitable Donations Helped Expand Presidential Powers Under Obama It Now Opposes Under Trump
Shareholder Proposal Demands Apple Come Clean on Charitable Contributions
Apple's Controversial Donations to Extremist Center for American Progress and Scandal-Plagued Clinton Foundation Show Need for Transparency, Accountability
Cupertino, CA / Washington, D.C. - At today's annual meeting of Apple shareholders in Cupertino, California, a representative of the National Center for Public Policy Research is presenting a proposal seeking greater transparency from the tech giant regarding its philanthropic activities.
In particular, the proposal expresses concern about the controversial political nature of and potential results from Apple contributions and seeks a report to shareholders explaining why the company's management believes these charitable donations match Apple's values and goals.
"Corporate charitable contributions should enhance a company's image and improve the communities in which it operates. While much of Apple's charitable activities match that criteria, the company has also donated to controversial political groups that could harm shareholder value and cause unnecessary damage to the company's reputation," said National Center General Counsel and Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, Esq., who is attending today's Apple shareholder meeting and presenting the National Center's proposal.
At the meeting, Danhof is presenting the proposal which, in part, states:
[m]uch of Apple's charity work is laudable. However, the company admits that it donates to thousands of organizations. Some of these organizations may use the funds in unintended ways. Donations to controversial groups - particularly political groups - may also result in harm to Apple's reputation.
For example, the company has donated to the Center for American Progress (CAP). CAP is an extreme political group that has been accused of anti-Semitism. Additionally, in 2010, under the direction of John Podesta - who would later become the chairman of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign - CAP wrote the blueprint for the Obama Administration's expansion of executive power. According to the New York Times, "once Mr. Obama got the taste for it, he pursued his executive power without apology, and in ways that will shape the presidency for decades to come." Now, with President Donald Trump in office, Apple has lodged complaints about the very same use of executive power that was effectively designed and, by implication, endorsed through its funding of CAP.
Danhof's full statement at today's meeting, as prepared for delivery, is available here.
The National Center's complete proposal, and Apple's response to it, are available on pages 54-55 of the company's proxy statement, which is available for download here.
"It takes quite a bit of chutzpah for Apple's executives to protest President Trump's use of executive power when Apple funded the liberal group that reportedly helped the Obama Administration expand the scope and breadth of executive branch power more than any other recent president. Because Apple funded the Center for American Progress, its recent complaints about the Trump Administration's use of this executive power on immigration policy fall flat," said Danhof.
In late January, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple CEO Tim Cook suggested the company might take legal action against the Trump Administration's executive order on immigration. Then, in early February, the company joined with more than 120 other corporations in signing a motion to support the lawsuit filed by the attorneys general of Minnesota and Washington State that eventually scuttled the immigration order.
"Apple CEO Tim Cook is a well-known liberal activist, and the company counts Al Gore as one of its most prominent board members. That's all well and good, but when the company funds one of the most extreme liberal organizations in America - with deep ties to George Soros - investors ought to be concerned," said Danhof. "The Center for American Progress and Mr. Soros share a vision for America that is detrimental to the free-market system that has allowed Apple to grow and thrive."
At the meeting, Danhof is also addressing Apple's donations to the Clinton Foundation. Danhof's planned statement reads:
[Apple] also donated to the Clinton Foundation, which is reportedly under FBI investigation. Media reports strongly imply that parts of the Clinton Foundation operated as a pay-for-play scheme whereby individuals and corporations may have sought preferential treatment from government actors in exchange for donations to the Foundation. That speculation is fueled by the closing of some of the Clinton Foundation's operations following Mrs. Clinton's unsuccessful White House bid.
"Outside of the overt political nature of donating to a foundation run by the Clintons, shareholders have a right to question Apple's decision to donate to a group that has a poor reputation as a charity and may now be in the FBI's crosshairs," added Danhof.
Even before the specter of an FBI investigation fell over the Clinton Foundation, the National Center's Free Enterprise Project was very active in exploring the connection between the Clinton Foundation and corporate America. In April 2015, National Center personnel confronted executives at Boeing and General Electric about potential conflicts of interest and the appearance of violations regarding possible honest services fraud. Both companies donated large sums to the Clinton Foundation, and both were beneficiaries of large foreign government contracts when Hillary Clinton - then serving as Secretary of State - helped secure those foreign contracts. The National Center's Free Enterprise Project's activism played a role in intensifying the spotlight on the Clinton Foundation as the Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor" extensively covered Danhof's confrontation with General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt.
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. Since 2014, National Center representatives have participated in nearly 100 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. Today's Apple meeting marks its second shareholder meeting so far in 2017.
In 2016, the Free Enterprise Project was featured in the Washington Post, the Washington Times, the Fox News Channel's "Cavuto," the Drudge Report, the Financial Times, Crain's Chicago Business, the Hollywood Reporter, the Los Angeles Times, Fortune, Newsmax, the Daily Caller, Lifezette, the Seattle Times, the Quad City Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Chicago Tribune among many others. The Free Enterprise Project was also featured in Wall Street Journal writer Kim Strassel's 2016 book The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech (Hachette Book Group).
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. Follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter for general announcements. To be alerted to upcoming media appearances by National Center staff, follow our media appearances Twitter account at @NCPPRMedia.