Corporate Integrity Project

ComEd Steers Contributions to Illinois Politicians' Charities

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:

Harry Wilson’s Teamsters Connection and the Return of Government Motors

Harry WilsonIs 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.

Watchdog Criticizes Harry Wilson GM Buyback Plan as Favor to UAW

NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica was a guest on Closing Bell today on CNBC. He was joined by Kevin O'Leary of Shark Tank.

Harry Wilson to the Rescue of GM— or UAW?

Harry WilsonHarry 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 friend Harry is back to make lots of money for hedge funds, as well as for himself.

GM Earnings Not as Rosy as Portrayed

General MotorsThe 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.

Sharpton's Tax Problems Get More Scrutiny

I was a guest this morning on Fox & Friends to discuss Al Sharpton's longstanding practice of not paying his taxes. Here's the video:

 

'Risky Business' Targets Midwest for Global Warming Alarmism

Bloomberg, Steyer, PaulsonWhat was a prolonged hibernation for “Risky Business,” after its brief burst of ballyhoo early last summer, has finally ended. The well-paid consultants and staffers for megarich global warming activist Tom Steyer (pictured in center) are back after his failed financial foray ($74 million) to elect Democrats to the Senate.

After the June 2014 release of its first report, Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States, they decided to carve that sucker up by geography. Last week they announced to the world that we first must alert folks in flyover country with the new report, Heat in the Heartland: Climate Change and Economic Risk in the Midwest. It’s clear from their Web site that future regional reports are to come. Steyer’s Risky Business partners Michael Bloomberg and Henry Paulson also threw their names on the Midwest report “findings.”

New Sharpton Book Coming February 15

Sharpton book coverTiming is everything. And in this 300+ page book titled Sharpton, A Demagogue's Rise, longtime Sharpton watcher and critic Carl F. Horowitz could not be more timely.

The cold-blooded murder of two New York City police officers followed weeks of Sharpton's vilification of law enforcement. The controversial minister and activist now finds himself front and center, a position he has always sought, but in a way he did not plan.

Horowitz not only explodes the myths about Sharpton by carefully documenting his past, but indicts a political culture that made possible his spectacular rise.

GM Shareholders Shafted as UAW Cashes in on Preferred Stock Buybacks

Dennis WilliamsGeneral Motors recently announced that it bought back preferred stock from the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust and the Canadian government. The deal closed in December of 2014 and supposedly will result in a reduction to GM's fourth quarter earnings to the tune of $800 million. GM had the option to redeem the shares at face value after December 31st of 2014. The timing of the deal brings into question the motivation behind the move and also leads us to reexamine a previous preferred share buyback that occurred in late 2013.

GM Asked to Disclose Donations to Nonprofits in Wake of Awards-for-Barra Controversy

Barra Appeal of ConscienceToday I sent the following letter to Theodore Solso, Chairman of the GM Board:

As a shareholder, the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) asks General Motors (GM) to disclose all its contributions to charitable and nonprofit organizations by the company, the General Motors Foundation, or any other entity.

This request is prompted by the acceptance of various awards by CEO Mary Barra offered by charitable and nonprofit organizations at the same time some of the groups are recipients of large cash donations from GM.

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