For Release: February 24, 2016
Contact: Judy Kent at (703) 759-7476 or cell (703) 477-7476 or [email protected]
"John Deere Consistently Surrenders to the Left"
John Deere Shareholders Voted Today on Political Transparency Proposal Asking Company to Report to Shareholders When It Supports Groups that Do Not Share Its Stated Corporate Value of Being Pro-Free Enterprise
Proposal Comes as Deere Voted One of Fortune Magazine's "Top 50 Admired Companies" - But Will Deere Still Be Admired If It Continues to Take Orders from Ultra-Left Anti-Free Enterprise Groups?
Moline, IL / Washington, D.C. - At today's annual meeting of John Deere shareholders in Moline, Illinois, National Center for Public Policy Research Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof presented a shareholder proposal to increase political and public policy corporate transparency in light of activities by management that seem at odds with John Deere's stated corporate values.
The proposal, available on page 67 of John Deere's proxy statement, asks company management to report to shareholders when it undertakes political activities at odds with its report to shareholders that it supports public policy and political initiatives that have a "pro-business outlook and support... the free enterprise system."
Danhof presented the proposal in person to management and shareholders today. The text of his presentation, as prepared for delivery, is here. The final results are not yet available.
"Today, we put John Deere executives on notice - when the company chooses to embrace leftist policies or takes anti-free market actions, the National Center will not sit idly by," said Danhof.
"Over the last decade, unions, left-wing activists and liberal asset managers have deluged corporate America with shareholder proposals requesting that corporations end support for conservatives and free-market organizations. Often this has been nothing but a well-funded left-wing effort to stifle free speech, yet all too often, corporate America has surrendered to radical demands," Danhof added.
"John Deere consistently surrenders to the left. From supporting cap-and-trade to rejecting continued membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council, Deere executives have given aid and comfort - not to mention shareholder money - to far-left causes," said Danhof.
When presenting the National Center proposal to Deere shareholders, Danhof asked shareholders to stand up if they believe "John Deere is better off if corporate taxes are higher and government places more and more regulations upon what we are allowed sell and how we can manufacture."
Despite being given time to stand and additional encouragement by Danhof to stand if they support management's current path, not one shareholder stood.
"When I asked the Deere shareholders in attendance today if they supported higher corporate taxes and increased government regulations, the room was palpably silent," Danhof said.
"Our proposal today was about much more than John Deere. Left-wing activists who oppose free speech and their corporate enablers should be worried. No longer will conservative and pro-free enterprise Americans sit by and watch the destruction of the American free-market system."
"John Deere announced Monday that it was recognized as one of America's 'Top 50 Admired Companies,'" added Danhof. "John Deere has a truly enviable reputation as an all-American company. But can John Deere retain this reputation if it continues to work with far-left organizations against our free-enterprise system, and calls conservative groups 'extremists' -- as its CEO, Samuel Allen, called the National Center for Public Policy Research to my face in a meeting simply because we asked John Deere not to take orders from Color of Change and other far-left groups?"
"John Deere also is at risk of losing its reputation as a straight-shooting, honest company," Danhof said. "When the National Center for Public Policy Research presented our shareholder proposal for inclusion in the proxy statement, Deere's attorneys fought us at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). We've fought dozens of companies before the SEC, but have never, ever had a battle there in which the company made so many flat-out dishonest arguments. We were, frankly, shocked. Management should put a stop to this sort of thing right away. Fighting is one thing; fighting dishonestly is something else entirely."
The National Center for Public Policy Research nonetheless prevailed at the SEC. The entire written exchange between Deere's attorneys and the National Center for Public Policy Research before the SEC, including the arguments made by Deere that the National Center for Public Policy Research believes were dishonest, is available on the SEC's website.
More information about the National Center's activities at John Deere is available in a press release we issued yesterday, February 23, and more information about our Free Enterprise Project is available here.
To speak with Justin Danhof or for more information, please contact Judy Kent at (703) 759-7476 or cell (703) 477-7476 or [email protected].
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.