The era of conservative shareholder activism has begun and if today’s General Electric shareholders meeting is any indication it has a bright future.
Normally shareholder meetings are rather dull affairs with the standard management reports and shareholder resolutions by the liberal left and their allies. Things were a bit different today at the GE meeting because of a shareholder resolution filed by the Free Action Enterprise Fund, headed by Steve Milloy and Tom Borelli. Their resolution called into question GE’s enthusiastic embrace of global warming initiatives when the record has shown that countries and industries that have embraced the Kyoto protocol and its ilk have suffered economically from these policies.
After Milloy criticized GE Chairman Jeff Immelt for basing his decisions by listening to only those groups that are pushing the warming agenda he fired back saying that he listens to the customers first, but did invite Milloy to bring other groups to the discussion.
The proposal was also opposed by representatives of the Dominican Sisters and Franciscan Brothers. No surprise here as these orders for years have agitated for change and have served as mouthpieces for the left when it comes to corporate activism.
While the proposal didn’t win it did garner 5.9% of the votes cast. Based on what little vote total figures were announced I estimate this proposal had the support of nearly 500 million shares which is remarkable considering the fund owns just 3,000 shares.
I consider my father the pioneer in the effort to hold media companies accountable as he started buying stock in the major media organizations over 30 years ago and attending the shareholder meetings just so he could ask questions about their coverage of various stories. This has now morphed into what the Free Enterprise Action Fund is doing this year by filing shareholder resolutions at various blue chip companies to hold them accountable for their business practices which are becoming more politically correct by the day.
A couple of other interesting things from today’s meeting included a father of two daughters who began a rant about GE’s involvement in the military industrial complex and said “we can’t keep killing children all over the world, and that we must “divest ourselves of the war machine.” His real focus was depleted uranium tipped missiles and he wanted GE to stop producing weapons of war. There was only one problem according to Immelt. GE doesn’t produce missiles. They produce engines and their defense business represents less than 1 % of their revenues. Nothing like the left totally falling on their face.
There was one shareholder who complained about media bias and decency on GE owned networks and Immelt said in response that “we believe that our news professionals are the best in the world.” If that is supposed to include Katie Couric, Matt Lauer and Keith Olberman then Jeff needs a reality check. Then again maybe they are the best at being biased.
After attending this meeting I felt like someone turned the light bulb off in Immelt’s head.
You can support the efforts of the Free Enterprise Action Fund by investing in the fund or go to their new web site and take action against the politically correct corporations who have caved in to the left rather than fight for what is right.