GE's Jeffrey Immelt Signals Surrender? CEO of Biggest Corporation Lobbying for Energy Restrictions and Bigger Government Suggests It May Be Returning to Its Roots
But Talk is Cheap, Says GE Critic National Center for Public Policy Research, Which Calls on GE to Drop Membership in Left-Wing USCAP Lobby
Washington, D.C. - Following years of sustained pressure from the National Center for Public Policy Research, General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt may finally be signaling that GE will stop lobbying for expensive, job-killing "green" anti-energy regulations.
According to Reuters, Immelt told an MIT Enterprise Forum audience May 3 that he has "lost interest in calling on the United States to develop a more comprehensive energy policy."
"I consider that a code phrase for cap-and-trade and related anti-energy policies," said Amy Ridenour, president of the National Center for Public Policy Research. "Jeffrey Immelt may be signaling that GE is returning to its roots of producing things people want to buy rather than lobbying for regulations and bailouts taxpayers are forced to subsidize."
"Talk is cheap, however," added National Center Vice President David Ridenour, who has questioned Immelt sharply at the last two GE shareholder meetings and who successfully pressured GE into making its lobbying priorities more transparent earlier this year. "If Jeffrey Immelt really has become a born-again pro-jobs, free-market business executive, we can expect to see GE drop its membership in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, which exists solely to lobby the federal government to impose restrictions on energy use. If GE stays in USCAP, it's still a liberal activist group that also makes things."
Following pressure from the National Center for Public Policy Research, Caterpillar, John Deere, ConocoPhillips, BP and GM have all withdrawn from USCAP.
As an individual GE shareholder, David Ridenour submitted a proposal calling for increased lobbying and public policy transparency to be voted on by GE shareholders at last week's meeting. After GE petitioned the Securities and Exchange Commission to let GE throw it out, the SEC ruled for Ridenour. GE then conceded and adopted the policy without the need for a vote.
Under its Free Enterprise Project, headed by Dr. Tom Borelli, the National Center for Public Policy Research, a GE shareholder, submitted a Climate Change Risk Disclosure shareholder proposal at last week's meeting. GE had petitioned the SEC to permit it to reject consideration of the proposal, but the SEC ruled in favor of the National Center. The proposal did not pass, but received enough votes for reconsideration.
"The shareholder proposal was based on guidance issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which voted in 2010 to encourage corporations to disclose the possible business and legal impact of climate change to shareholders," said Borelli. "Many CEOs have not been forthcoming about the business risk related to changes in climate change policies and have failed to exercise their fiduciary responsibility by not assessing and communicating the impact of emissions regulations on their businesses."
Along with FreedomWorks, which sponsored along with Tea Party groups a rally outside this year's GE meeting, the National Center in January produced a commercial highlighting Immelt's anti-jobs, pro-regulation lobbying activities, viewable online at http://youtu.be/9op8B3ZcnD4.
The National Center for Public Policy Research and FreedomWorks also conducted extensive polling on the impact GE's lobbying for expanded government is having on GE's reputation among tens of millions of potential customers.
"Among self-identified conservatives, which is 42% of the U.S. population, GE had a 51% favorable and 25% unfavorable rating until they learned that GE lobbied for President Obama's $787 billion stimulus plan, from which it benefited, and for cap-and-trade," said David Ridenour. "Then the numbers almost switched: 20% favorable and 50% unfavorable."
"What's more, added Ridenour, "our polling showed sixty percent of conservative voters are less likely to buy products from companies that have lobbied in favor of Obama's legislative agenda, as GE repeatedly has done, and in a high-profile manner. GE is driving away these consumers by lobbying for big government."
David Ridenour, Dr. Tom Borelli, and Deneen Borelli, full-time fellow of the National Center-sponsored Project 21 black leadership network, all questioned Immelt last week. Video is available at http://youtu.be/jr2r5x_z8qI, http://youtu.be/qNffGWi6rM0 and http://youtu.be/1-DsUAMcVLs respectively.
The National Center's work critical of GE lobbying efforts has received extensive publicity in recent years, including numerous appearances by Dr. Tom Borelli on the nation's #1 cable news broadcast, FNC's O'Reilly Factor.
A clip of Borelli discussing GE on Stuart Varney's Fox Business Channel program April 29 can be seen at http://youtu.be/W_1nGlDXdJw.
Independent news organizations have reported that GE's Immelt retaliated against some news organizations by withholding advertising.
The National Center For Public Policy Research is a conservative, free-market, non-profit think-tank established in 1982. Its 2010 revenues were over $12 million. It is supported by the voluntary gifts of over 100,000 individual recent supporters, receiving less than one percent of its revenue from corporate sources. Contributions to it are tax-deductible.