Boeing Refuses to Disclose Any Boeing-State Department-Clinton Foundation Email Correspondence
Chairman Tells Shareholder He's "Comfortable" with Donations to Clinton Foundation That Could Put Boeing at Risk of Honest Services Fraud Charges
Company Offers to Continue Discussion with Free-Market Think-Tank about Increased Transparency Despite Not Releasing E-Mails
Chicago, IL / Washington, D.C. - Boeing Chairman and CEO W. James McNerney, Jr. was today asked to make any emails between Boeing and the U.S. State Department during the time State helped Boeing secure a Russian contract and Boeing made a contribution to the Clinton Foundation available for inspection.
Between the shareholder meeting today and last year's meeting, Boeing went to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to fight a shareholder proposal submitted by the National Center for Public Policy Research on Almasi's behalf asking the company for more transparency in reporting its methodology for making charitable donations. Boeing was successful in getting the SEC to agree, in January 2015, that it would not require Boeing to place the proposal before shareholders for a vote.
Today the National Center asked McNerney to release any email correspondence Boeing officials had with the U.S. State Department, as the government's copies of at least some of these emails may have been stored on Secretary Clinton's private server, and then deleted.
At today's shareholder meeting, National Center Executive Director David W. Almasi asked:
Although you have succeeded in blocking this shareholder's request for a report on charitable giving policies, you still have the opportunity to set the record straight that every communication between Boeing and the State Department was above board. Will you release every email and communication that Boeing officials had relating to donations to the Clinton Foundation, and with the State Department?
McNerney claimed the company is "very mindful of interacting in the proper way with any charitable organization – including the Clinton Foundation," and "we feel comfortable with the donations we made." Yet he rebuffed Almasi's request to voluntarily make the emails available, stating the company would do so only "if there is some regulatory or legal proceeding that we're asked to become part of."
"Boeing is digging itself deeper into a hole with its stubbornness. Boeing officials may have done nothing wrong, but doubling down on the ambiguity as to why they felt it best to donate to the family-run foundation of a serving public official who had helped them out begs prosecutors to investigate the possibility of honest services fraud," said Almasi. "And refusing to release emails about it that they must have archived somewhere only heightens suspicion."
Almasi's full question, as prepared for delivery, is available here.
After being rebuffed at the 2014 shareholder meeting, when McNerney called Almasi's request "beyond the pale," Almasi and the National Center submitted a resolution demanding more transparency in the Boeing charitable-giving processes. It was meant to be included in the company's 2015 proxy statement and voted on at today's shareholder meeting, but Boeing fought the resolution, and the Obama Administration's Securities and Exchange Commission allowed Boeing to keep it from being considered over a technicality regarding stock ownership. The resolution, in part, read:
Shareholders request that the Board of Directors consider issuing a semiannual report on the Company website, omitting proprietary information and at reasonable cost, disclosing: the Company's standards for choosing which organizations receive the Company's assets in the form of charitable contributions, the business rationale, if any, for such contributions, the intended purpose of each of the charitable contributions and, if appropriate, the benefits to others of the Company's charitable works.
The full text of the resolution is available here.
Almasi explained: "Such a report would have identified the company's standards for making charitable donations and shown whether such transactions were indeed ethical and legal. I was very disappointed when Boeing spent shareholder resources to have its lawyers petition the SEC to block its shareholders from voting on this non-binding recommendation to management. It gives the appearance that Boeing has something to hide."
During the shareholder meeting, Almasi reminded McNerney that there were many charities doing work in Haiti similar to what the Clinton Foundation was doing. McNerney, who earlier said the Boeing board would reexamine all shareholder resolutions after the meeting - regardless of whether they got past the no-action - also pledged to "keep engaging" with the National Center about the organization's shareholder resolution that they fought.
"While McNerney pledged to continue the discussion with us on the issue of increasing transparency, he maintained that he felt the company did the right thing and has no intention to make any communications between Boeing and the Clintons and the State Department available for general review. This air of mystery is exactly how a prosecution for honest services fraud might begin. As a shareholder, it concerns me that this growing scandal involving the Clintons could someday hurt my investment in Boeing," said Almasi.
On April 22, Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof likewise asked General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt to release emails between GE and the State Department because the company donated to the Clinton Foundation and Secretary of State Clinton helped GE secure a contract for a power plant in Algeria. Immelt, sounding much like Boeing's McNerney, replied: "That's not something we would do."
Both the National Center for Public Policy Research and David Almasi are Boeing shareholders.
The National Center's Free Enterprise Project is the nation's preeminent free-market activist group focusing on corporations. In 2014, Free Enterprise Project representatives participated in 52 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 appearance at Boeing's annual meeting of shareholders \marks the eleventh shareholder meeting for the National Center in 2015.
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.