NLPC seeks to promote integrity in corporate governance, including honesty and fair play in relationships with shareholders, employees, business partners and customers. In doing so, NLPC places special emphasis on:
* Asserting that the social responsibility of the corporation is to defend and advance the interests of the people who own the company, the shareholders. True responsibility is fidelity to one’s own mission, not someone else’s, or someone else’s political agenda.
* Exposing the seeking of influence on public officials by corporations, which is the inevitable result of high levels of government spending and intervention in the marketplace.
* Combating practices that undermine the free enterprise system, including philanthropic giving to groups hostile to a free economy.
Lachlan Markay of the Washington Free Beacon website today details the saga of something called the Clean Energy Project. Founded and staffed by for former aides to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), the nonprofit collected donations from corporations which received hundreds of millions in federal grants and loan guarantees at Reid’s urging. From the article:
Their donations to the CEP suggest “a vehicle to promote pay-to-play politics,” says Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, an ethics watchdog group.
“It is run by Reid insiders, funded by those who want Reid’s political favors, and there’s a track record of Reid dispensing favors to those who fund it,” Boehm said in an email. “As the late Senator [Sam] Ervin said, sometimes things are what they look like.”
Also from the article:
Rebecca Lambe, Reid’s top political strategist who has been directed by Reid to take the lead
Christine Young is the Consumer Watchdog that has written about the newest GM safety concern on timesleader.com. Ms. Young tells the story of a frustrated Chevy Cruze owner who is afraid to drive his vehicle because of problems with power steering. GM’s response to the problem belies the perception that the company is properly addressing safety issues on its vehicles.
You see, GM has sent letters and issued a service bulletin that admits a dangerous defect exists. However, owners are … Read More ➡
A recent search of Manheim’s auction site gives the best indicator of Chevy Volt’s wholesale value. A whopping 138 model year 2012 Volts sold in just one week at the auction. That’s about the same amount of NEW Chevy Volts that are sold by General Motors in a week!
The news for Volt owners is not good. The average sale price for a 2012 Volt at auction was below $12,000. That’s about $3,000 less … Read More ➡
Last time NLPC checked on Tesla Motors – as 2014 closed – we noted a growing skepticism largely due to CEO Elon Musk’s consistent habit of overpromising production and results, without delivering.
Then ten days ago he reported year-end earnings, and matters have worsened, although you wouldn’t know it from most of the undeterred “rah-rah” media and Wall Street fanboys. But there are exceptions.
First, the brutal basics – Tesla suffered a fourth-quarter loss of $107.6 million, which was nearly seven times the loss ($16.3 million) during the same period last year. The company lost $294 million for the whole year, compared to a $74 million loss in 2013, and has not recorded a profit in its history (except in a couple of quarters where it employed accounting gimmickry and depended heavily on subsidies). According to Associated Press, analysts expected a profit of 30 cents per share, but Tesla … Read More ➡
Today’s Chicago Tribune spotlights Commonwealth Edison’s “charitable” contributions to activist groups that might be expected to oppose electricity rate increases. From the article by Julie Wernau:
Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center just outside Washington, D.C., called the practice of making such donations a "double cheat" on ratepayers.
"Why should ratepayers have to pay increased rates so the utility can go out and give money to groups that might otherwise criticize their increase request?" Boehm said.
The article also detailed contributions to foundations and groups associated with Illinois politicians:
Commonwealth Edison spent $27,000 in ratepayer money in 2013 for a golf outing hosted by members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, which was raising money for the legislative body's foundation.
ComEd used $736,000 in ratepayer money in 2011 to fund World Business Chicago, an economic development organization chaired by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The CEO
Is the fix in? General Motors is acting like it faces a major decision in responding to the self-nomination of Harry Wilson for its board of directors. Wilson was one of the key members of President Obama’s Auto Task Force, and purports to be acting at the behest of hedge funds who want GM to spend the “cash hoard” that was made possible by US taxpayers.
Ironically, Wilson was one of the people who determined how much of a “hoard” GM would accumulate, an amount he now criticizes as being excessive. During, and just prior to, GM’s bankruptcy process, taxpayers supplied about $50 billion to “invest” in the company. Canadian taxpayers chipped in about $10 billion while GM had its balance sheet cleared of about $30 billion of debt. The liabilities owed to the politically-favored UAW remained intact.
Why did the Auto Task Force that Wilson served believe that GM … Read More ➡
NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica was a guest on Closing Bell today on CNBC. He was joined by Kevin O'Leary of Shark Tank.
Here is a transcript:
Sara Eisen: At first it seemed like it was just another activist investors at work but our next guest says something else is in play here. We're talking about Harry Wilson, the restructuring expert who served on President Obama's auto industry task force during the financial crisis and was instrumental in bringing GM out of bankruptcy. Now Wilson is a GM activist investor and represents hedge funds holding a total of 34 million shares asking General Motors' CEO Mary Barra for a seat on the board and is pressing for a stock buyback, Simon.
Simon Hobbs: Our next guest is a former GM bondholder who says the company isn't so financially healthy, that it shouldn't burn through its reserves with buybacks … Read More ➡
Harry Wilson, the nemesis of General Motors bondholders who were wiped out in the government-orchestrated GM bankruptcy, is back on the scene. On the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal, Wilson is portrayed as an “activist” investor, who seeks to maximize shareholder value. While his suggestion that GM buy back $8 billion of common shares would give a temporary boost to share price, Wilson’s motivations may not be entirely pure. His real agenda could be to expand the already-favored position of UAW shareholders, and to bolster the political fortunes of unions in general.
Wilson was a retired banker elected to serve on President Obama’s Auto Task Force and was the driving force behind preventing old GM bondholders from receiving due process during the GM bankruptcy process. His involvement led to his current status as a “restructuring expert” and CEO of the MAEVA Group. It now seems that our … Read More ➡
The trumpets sounded this morning as General Motors reported its 2014 fourth quarter earnings. GM’s bottom line earnings exceeded expectations (although revenue missed and was down from last year) and the pre-market share price of GM immediately jumped over a dollar a share. Despite the victory laps being taken by GM and its friends in the media, it would be wise for individual investors to think twice before jumping on the GM bandwagon.
GM management often exhibits a political DNA which was implanted at the company as a result of the 2009 auto bailouts when the Obama Administration manipulated a bankruptcy process to benefit UAW allies. GM’s main goal now seems to be to give the appearance of financial strength while ignoring the fact that the auto industry is highly cyclical as well as brutally competitive. The strategy has not worked to date considering that, since GM’s IPO in late … Read More ➡