"Crony Capitalists" Challenged at Shareholder Meeting
Exelon Asked to Return $200 Million Grant from Obama Administration to Taxpayers; Declines
Corporate Chairman "Doesn't See Any Link" Between $200 Million Obama Administration Grant and "Our Own Public Policy Positions" -- Which Happened to Support Obama's
Chicago, IL / Washington, D.C. - Shareholder activists with the National Center for Public Policy Research challenged corporate executives with the energy giant Exelon about their firm's participation in so-called "crony capitalism" at Exelon's shareholder meeting this week in Chicago.
Incoming Exelon Chairman Mayo A. Shattuck III and President Christopher Crane were asked a series of questions about Exelon lobbying for President Obama's energy agenda while the firm received a $200 million grant from the Administration by Dr. Tom Borelli, director of the National Center's Free Enterprise Project, and by Deneen Borelli, full-time fellow of the National Center-sponsored black leadership group Project 21.
Under just-retired (March 12) CEO John Rowe, Exelon played a key role in advancing President Obama's cap-and-trade energy policy by participating in the United States Climate Action Partnership, a lobbying coalition of corporations and radical environmental special interest groups that sought federal legislation to mandate reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.
The cap-and-trade law, which ultimately failed, was a centerpiece of the Obama Administration's energy policy. It would have sharply increased consumer energy prices. Many of its prime corporate backers had financial motives.
"Many corporate members of the United States Climate Action Partnership, including General Electric, Duke Energy, NextEra Energy, Exelon, and Honeywell all received economic stimulus funds," said Dr. Borelli. "Pushing Obama's agenda seems to have financial rewards. The coordinated effort between big government and big business threatens our free enterprise system. Policy issues should be settled in the public's best interest, not as the result of back room deals."
"Our advocacy with respect to cap and trade - is really... based on good science," Mr. Shattuck told Dr. Borelli.
Cap-and-trade was sold as a way to fight alleged human-caused global warming, but it would have had scant impact on temperatures and would have been more subject to corruption than a simple energy tax.
Dr. Borelli asked the board to consider returning the $200 million to U.S. taxpayers. Receiving no specific reply, he pointedly asked Chairman Shattuck, "so you don't have any intention of giving the 200 million dollars back?" Mr. Shattuck replied, "we do not, currently."
Exelon also has received a $646 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.
"The series of bankruptcies in the renewal energy arena proves the need for private watchdogs such as our Free Enterprise Project and further Congressional investigations into the relationships between political donors and recipients of loans and grants financed by the taxpayers," said Dr. Borelli. "Our Free Enterprise Project is monitoring numerous corporations with questionable relationships, yet we fear we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. Continued serious investigations are definitely warranted."
"When you look at it, all the biggest corporate lobbyists for President Obama's energy agenda were recipients of major grants and loans," Dr. Borelli continued. "Lightening keeps striking in the same places, or perhaps a better analogy is that a suspiciously small number of companies seem to continually win the lottery."
Company executives had little to say when Deneen Borelli pleaded with them to consider the impact of higher energy prices on seniors with fixed incomes when deciding to lobby for policies that will sharply raise consumer prices: "When you're causing that product['s price] to go up... there are a lot of seniors... who are on fixed incomes and we have high energy costs, and they have to pick and choose, do I buy my medicine this month or pay my utility bill?... So what you really need to keep in mind is how this is going to affect hardworking Americans, especially if you are on a fixed income. This is in the best interest of shareholders, your company and the economy as a whole."
To Mrs. Borelli, Chairman Shattuck replied, "We really appreciate the comment. Thank you."
In response to a question from Dr. Borelli about the company's reliance on government tax credits, Exelon President Christopher Crane said Exelon shareholders have "as far as the renewable program and what we've invested so far, we have no exposure to any change in renewable tax credits or the incentives that were generated to jumpstart the renewable industry." Dr. Borelli followed up, "So are you saying that if the production tax credits are not renewed, it's not going to hurt shareholders?" President Crane replied, "That's exactly the answer. It will not hurt shareholders if it's not renewed."
Audio recordings of Dr. Tom Borelli's and Deneen Borelli's exchanges with the Exelon executives are available on YouTube at http://youtu.be/OxGgKtXcLDY and http://youtu.be/Z3Oot_YnJPc, respectively.
The National Center for Public Policy Research is an Exelon shareholder.
The National Center For Public Policy Research (http://www.nationalcenter.org) is a conservative, free-market, non-profit think-tank established in 1982. It is supported by the voluntary gifts of over 100,000 individual recent supporters, receiving about one percent of its revenue from corporate sources. Contributions to it are tax-deductible.