Boeing Pledges to Work With Trump Administration on Iran Aircraft Sales
Aerospace Giant Says Negotiations "All Hand-in-Hand" with U.S. Government, But Free Enterprise Project Says Doubts About Iranian Sincerity Justified
"Fake Transparency" Proposal Defeated by Wide Margin After Free Enterprise Project Recommended Shareholders Reject Left-Wing Assault on Free Speech
Chicago, IL / Washington, D.C. - At today's annual meeting of Boeing investors held in Chicago, in response to a question from a representative of the National Center for Public Policy Research about jets the company intends to sell to Iran, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg replied that the company is "all hand-in-hand with the U.S. government" in its negotiations. Shareholder activists with National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project (FEP), the nation's leading proponent of free-market investor activism who posed the question, remain skeptical of Iran's sincerity and warn about the regional threat a badly-negotiated sale could cause.
"Because the federal government is involved, Boeing's Muilenburg doesn't see a concern about selling aircraft to Iran that could end up being used to carry troops, terrorists, weapons and resources and destabilize the Middle East. We need to remember and employ Ronald Reagan's arms control philosophy: trust, but verify," said National Center Vice President David W. Almasi, who represented the organization at this and previous Boeing shareholder meetings. "President Obama's horrible nuclear deal with Iran - a deal Iran has reportedly already broken on several occasions - is the reason Boeing was able to make this sale. It could be dangerous to allow the same variety of bureaucrats who brokered that original deal to sign off on this one without putting all reasonable doubts to rest. In fact, congressional concern about the threat, and calls for a new ban on such sales, certainly are reasonable at this point."
Muilenburg's comments about the company's plans to sell aircraft to Iran were made today at Boeing's annual meeting of shareholders at the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois. FEP also spoke out against a "fake transparency" shareholder proposal that was overwhelmingly defeated.
In early April, Boeing announced plans to sell sixty 737 commercial airliners to Iran Aseman Airlines. It comes on the heels of another proposed deal reached last December to sell fifty 737s and thirty 777s to Iran Air. Iran's ties to terrorism and to the Assad regime in Syria, as well as its use of civilian aircraft to move soldiers and weapons in the past, has prompted some elected officials to demand President Donald Trump suspend aircraft sales to Iran. The Obama Administration's 2015 nuclear deal with Iran allowed such sales, but only upon federal approval.
In part, Almasi asked Boeing's Muilenburg:
Considering Iran and Russia's continued support for Assad's regime — even in light of such horrific atrocities — some U.S. lawmakers have expressed concern about Boeing's dealings with Iran in particular.
Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Peter Roskam recently requested that President Trump ban U.S. companies from selling aircraft to Iran...
Iran has long supported the Assad government by using commercial aircraft to fly weapons and troops into Syria. Iran also sponsors the terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah...
As planes can carry weapons and hostile troops as well as civilians, what guarantees can you make that no Boeing aircraft will be used by Iran to benefit the Assad regime or otherwise for terrorism-related activities?
The full text of Almasi's question is available here.
During the meeting, investors also overwhelmingly voted against a shareholder proposal FEP had recommended all Boeing shareholders reject. Sponsored by the Philadelphia Public Employees Retirement System, the "fake transparency" proposal sought to compel Boeing to disclose all "direct and indirect lobbying activities and expenditures." FEP said the proposal was not about transparency, but about limiting free speech - specifically muzzling the National Association of Manufacturers and Business Roundtable. Both are groups Boeing works with to advance shareholder interests.
Past FEP criticism of Boeing makes FEP uniquely qualified to speak out against the proposal. In 2014 and 2015, the National Center questioned Boeing's then-CEO W. James McNerney, Jr. about Boeing's reasons for making donations to the Clinton Foundation. Those donations closely coincided with an effort by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to help secure a Boeing contract with the Russian airline Rossiya. The National Center was concerned the donations may have subjected the company to liability for honest services fraud - a form of bribery - and harmed the company's brand to the detriment of shareholders. Boeing even fought a National Center shareholder proposal asking the company to issue a report on any business rationale for charitable contributions (the proposal was ultimately kept from investors due to a technicality over stock ownership). This was the fourth time FEP participated in a Boeing shareholder meeting.
The National Center's efforts regarding Boeing and the Clinton Foundation received substantial media coverage, including on the Fox News Channel. This, and similar National Center questioning of General Electric's support of the Clinton Foundation, helped prompt the FBI's high-profile investigation of the Clinton Foundation.
Launched in 2007, the National Center for Public Policy Research'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 to advance 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 is the tenth shareholder meeting FEP has attended in 2017.
FEP activism has yielded a tremendous return on investment:
- FEP's highly-publicized questioning of support for the Clinton Foundation by Boeing and General Electric helped trigger an FBI investigation of the Clinton Foundation's activities that dominated the 2016 presidential campaign.
- FEP inquiries prompted Facebook to address political bias against conservatives in social media.
- Company executives acknowledged media bias at ABC News (Disney), the Washington Post and CNN (Time Warner) in response to FEP's challenges, which helped to bring about more objective reporting and more balanced political representation.
- 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.
So far in 2017, FEP has been featured in media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Variety, Newsmax TV, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Breitbart, Denver Post, Drudge Report, Business Insider, Orlando Sentinel, National Public Radio, American Family Radio and SiriusXM. In 2016, FEP was also featured in the Washington Times, the Fox News Channel's "Cavuto," the Financial Times, Crain's Chicago Business, the Hollywood Reporter, the Los Angeles Times, Fortune, Newsmax, the Daily Caller, Lifezette, the Seattle Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Chicago Tribune among many others. The Free Enterprise Project was also featured in Wall Street Journal writer Kimberley 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. Sign up for email updates here. 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.