Free-Market Activist Challenges Honeywell Over How Millions in Stimulus Money was Spent
Honeywell CEO "Comfortable" Taking $25 Million from Taxpayers to Create Only Ten Jobs
Shareholder Calls Out Honeywell's Hypocrisy for Complaining About the National Debt While Taking Millions from the Taxpayers
Morris Township, NJ / Washington, D.C. - This morning, at Honeywell's annual meeting of shareholders in Morris Township, New Jersey, a representative of the National Center for Public Policy Research asked Honeywell CEO David Cote to explain what his company did with millions of taxpayer-funded stimulus dollars that failed to produce the green jobs or economic growth that company executives promised.
"Cote became very defensive when I asked whether it was appropriate for his company to take large sums of taxpayer dollars and fail to deliver on promises of job creation and economic growth," said National Center Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, Esq. "His discomfort with me and the other shareholders in attendance was palpable. It is a good moral quality to admit mistakes, one that Cote did not show today."
In 2010, Honeywell UOP received a $25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy as part of President Barack Obama's stimulus plan. As part of the Obama Administration's larger green-energy agenda, the $25 million taxpayer gift was specifically allocated for a biofuels demonstration plant to be built in Oahu, Hawaii. The DOE and Honeywell claimed that the project would create 85 construction jobs and 40 permanent jobs per year; however, an April 2012 report by the Honolulu Civil Beat found that only about 10 permanent jobs were created.
"Honeywell created 10 jobs with $25 million in taxpayer funds – a cost of $2.5 million per job. If CEO Cote is 'comfortable' with that, he is sorely out of touch with reality, and he owes the taxpayers a better explanation than the terse reply he provided me today," said Danhof.
Unsatisfied with Cote's first response, in a follow-up question, Danhof asked if Cote had any current numbers that showed more jobs were recently created at the biofuels project or if he wished to refute the Honolulu Civil Beat report. Cote repeated that he was happy with the work of the Honeywell UOP project and had no new numbers.
"From Solyndra to Fisker, the Obama Administration has shown a repeated unwillingness to hold companies accountable for wasting taxpayer funded dollars. Obama and his staff instead make excuses. So when public companies, such as Honeywell, squander hard-earned taxpayer dollars, it is up to citizens and shareholders to hold their feet to the fire," said Danhof.
Cote, who served on the Simpson-Bowles Debt Commission, has claimed to be deeply concerned with America's debt crisis. In a moment of stunning hypocrisy, Cote appeared on a November 2012 CBS Evening News broadcast and complained about the national debt calling it "ridiculous" and bemoaning that current outlays and entitlements will "crush the system."
"If he is truly concerned with the national debt, Cote will stop sticking his hand out for free government funds if his company doesn't have a realistic plan for the taxpayers to make a reasonable return on their investment," added Danhof.
"This notion that Obama and his staff sit around and pick winners and losers with our tax dollars does not sit well with the American people," said Danhof. "This is especially true since the Obama Administration has a habit of picking losers. The White House is not an investment bank, and tax revenue is not monopoly money. After the meeting some of the shareholders in attendance thanked me for asking the question noting that someone has to hold these CEOs accountable for squandering our hard-earned tax dollars. Hopefully, after this morning's meeting, Honeywell will think twice before they take hoards of taxpayer dollars in the future."
A copy of Danhof's question at the shareholder meeting, as prepared for delivery, can be found here.
National Center executive director David Almasi is a Honeywell shareholder. Danhof is attending today's meeting as his proxy.
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 4 percent from foundations, and less than 2 percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.
Contributions to The National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.