For Release: March 3, 2016
Contact: Judy Kent at (703) 759-7476 or cell (703) 477-7476 or [email protected]
Walt Disney Investors asked to Reject Liberal Resolution Targeting Corporate Involvement with Groups that Support Free Enterprise and Private Job Creation
National Center for Public Policy Research Calls for Investors to Vote Against Zevin Asset Management Proposal Resolution Attacking the National Restaurant Association
Chicago, IL / Washington, D.C. - In advance of today's annual meeting of Walt Disney shareholders scheduled to take place at Roosevelt University in Chicago, the National Center for Public Policy Research is urging the entertainment giant's stockholders to reject a shareholder proposal from Zevin Asset Management that attacks Disney's engagement with free enterprise organizations such as the National Restaurant Association.
"Calling themselves 'Pioneers in Socially Responsible Investing,' Zevin Asset Management is just another in a long line of far-left activist groups that attack the free enterprise system whenever they get a chance. Zevin's proposal to Disney's shareholders is just one more strike against the most prosperous economic system the world has ever known," said National Center Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, Esq. "Specifically targeting the National Restaurant Association for its efforts in advancing free-market reforms, Zevin is seeking to use Disney's shareholders to silence conservative speech. We urge all Disney shareholders to reject Zevin's proposal."
The Zevin Asset Management proposal entitled "Lobbying Disclosure" ostensibly seeks to have Disney create a report regarding its membership in trade associations and other organizations that may have policy or political influence. (Zevin's full proposal, and Disney's response to it, are on pages 64-65 of the company's proxy statement and available for download here.)
"We don't believe Zevin wants corporate transparency. We believe it wants an enemies list. The left has unfairly harmed the reputations of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Chamber of Commerce and Charles and David Koch. Now Zevin is attacking the half-million food service companies associated with the National Restaurant Association," said Danhof. "Is your local restaurant owner a bad guy or is he a hardworking small businessman who creates jobs and services in your community? The left says he's a bad guy. We like the jobs he creates."
While on its face the Zevin proposal may seem to be a basic call for corporate transparency, on its website the activist group makes clear that it is targeting Disney for its membership in the National Restaurant Association. The Zevin website states:
Disney's membership in the National Restaurant Association, known for its staunch opposition to raising the minimum wage for tipped workers, helped bring our attention to their [sic] lobbying practices. No doubt Disney's membership dues to the association known (for their [sic] lobbying muscle) as "the other NRA" go to lobbying against fair pay and working conditions—but wouldn't it be nice to know?
"This is an outrageous claim," said Danhof. "The National Restaurant Association works to create an economic environment that grows jobs and increases prosperity for millions of Americans. What evidence does Zevin have that the National Restaurant Association is out to harm workers and ensure they have bad working conditions? This is an unfair accusation. The National Restaurant Association works to create more profits and thus more lucrative jobs in the restaurant industry."
"Zevin Asset Management is continuing the fear-mongering campaign of other liberal extremist groups. Liberal activist groups such as Common Cause, NorthStar Asset Management and the Democracy Alliance have pressured corporations to end affiliations with free enterprise organizations and conservatives. Zevin and its allies submit shareholder proposals supposedly seeking increased corporate transparency, but what they really do is silence and defund the free enterprise movement," added Danhof.
"Zevin's tactics are nothing new. Left-wing activists have used nearly identical proposals to attack the American Legislative Exchange Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Far too often, corporate executives and board members have bent to the will of these radicals," noted Danhof. "Whether for personal political reasons, or some perceived short-term gain, corporate America has been trending to the left in recent years and abandoning free enterprise principles. Shareholders can – and should – play an important role in reversing this ugly trend. That is why we are calling on all Disney shareholders to affirm the free enterprise model by rejecting Zevin's proposal."
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. Today's Disney meeting marks its third shareholder meeting 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.