At the Starbucks annual meeting on March 20, CEO Howard Schultz told a shareholder named Tom Strobhar to sell his stock if he disagreed with the company's embrace of gay marriage.
Shareholders do have this prerogative. That is the beauty of securities markets. But the issue is not so simple. Institutional investors now own the majority of shares of publicly-held companies traded on U.S. exchanges. Many people own stock through mutual and pension funds, overseen by professional managers. As a practical matter, lots of Starbucks shareholders do not have the opportunity to easily sell their stock.
The only problem with this story line is that the New York Times approached us shortly before the January 29 FBI raid on Melgen's eye practice in Florida and asked us if we had any information on Melgen. We did not seek to place it with any news organization because there was (and is) even more to the story, and we were (and are) still researching it.
Yesterday, NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm questioned Senator Robert Menendez' veracity after his office claimed that he did not know that his ex-aide Pedro Pablo Permuy (in photo) was involved with ICCSI, a company partly owned by his mega-donor Salomon Melgen. Menendez sought to pressure administration officials to support a contract for port security in the Dominican Republic that would have provided a windfall for Melgen.
Sen. Bob Menendez's ties to a former Miami aide who could benefit from a controversial overseas port contract, which the Democrat pushed for, extend to an international business group that last year feted Spain's king and the U.S. secretary of state.
Mary Jo White is a poor choice to head the SEC. As a U.S. attorney, she demonstrated a lack of political independence and competence.
In the late 90's prosecution of the Teamsters money landering scandal, White won several guilty pleas from low-level has-beens, but gave a pass to prominent union figures who played a key role in the Democratic political campaign of 2000, and every one since. The magnitude of White's dereliction of duty can be seen in who was not prosecuted- Richard Trumka, Andrew Stern and Gerald McEntee.
The more the media covers the "fiscal cliff" fiasco, the more perspective is lost. It is really quite simple. Because the Republicans unilaterally jettisoned their trademark anti-tax stance, they will get nothing in return. The Democrats are not going to cut spending. In fact, the new tax revenues will fuel new spending, that will be leveraged into even more debt.
The pre-emptive Republican capitulation decoupled the tax issue from the spending issue, precluding any "Grand Bargain'" or even token spending cuts. The Democrats trademark stance of protecting social programs like Medicare and Social Security from cuts is intact. Thus, Obama is off the hook. He will pay no political price with his own base, nor will he feel any pressure to provide leadership in averting national bankruptcy.
The anti-Walmart protests today organized by the United Food and Commercial Workers union are the clearest evidence yet that the company's campaign of appeasement of left-wing activist groups is failing. Indeed, it appears the policy has invited more defamation and harassment. We told you so.
NLPC documented the emergence of this policy in a Special Report titled Wal-Mart Embraces Controversial Causes: Bid to Appease Liberal Interest Groups Will Likely Fail, Hurt Business. Written by John Carlisle, it was published in 2006 and updated in 2008. Click here to download the 24-page pdf version.
Eric Lipton of the New York Times had a round up on Friday of the election-day fortunes of members of Congress in ethics trouble. According to the article:
In races around the country, an unusually large number of lawmakers facing charges of wrongdoing were unceremoniously ousted from their jobs on Tuesday - which is quite rare, because more than 90 percent of the incumbents seeking re-election to Congress typically return for another term.
Rep. James Moran (D-VA), whose son is seen on an undercover video providing instructions on how to engage in vote fraud, has a long history of ethical problems. The fact that he is still in Congress is confirmation of the ineffectiveness of three bodies tasked with enforcing ethics, the U.S. Justice Department, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the House Ethics Committee.
The U.S. military's newspaper, Stars & Stripes, recently reported that the Pentagon is buying Chevy Volts in a 1,500 electric-vehicle purchase, as part of the Defense Department's "green initiatives," which seek to reduce the country's dependence on foreign energy sources.
A recent Congressional Budget Office study challenged the assumption that electric vehicles have any impact on such dependence, prompting the question of why the government is spending money this way. Against the backdrop of the attack on our embassy in Benghazi, and looming embassy security cuts due to sequestration, it appears politics and ideology are trumping common sense.