Lloyd Blankfein Plays Dumb on Goldman Sachs Support for Jesse Jackson

Blankfein photoAt the Goldman Sachs annual meeting on Friday, I had an unplanned exchange with CEO Lloyd Blankfein about Goldman’s support of Jesse Jackson, who was at the meeting and kept popping up to speak. Jackson was acting adversarial toward Blankfein, even though Goldman Sachs is one of Jackson’s largest financial supporters.

In hopes of ending this charade, I asked Blankfein to clarify the relationship between Goldman and Jackson as that of donor and recipient. Blankfein said he didn’t know if Goldman supported Jackson. I challenged him by asking, “You do not know?” and “You give Jackson’s group six-figure sums and you don’t know about it?” Blankfein continued to play dumb, so I moved on to address our resolution asking for a report on the science behind Goldman’s embrace of global warming.

Of course, Blankfein is not dumb, just dishonest.

At the end of my remarks, Jackson approached me at the … Read More ➡

Colgate-Palmolive CEO Admits Bankrolling Sharpton After Company Denied It

Sharpton photoYesterday, Dr. Carl Horowitz of the NLPC staff spoke at the Colgate-Palmolive annual meeting in New York City in support of our resolution asking the company to disclose its charitable contributions. In the past year, Colgate had both ballyhooed and denied that it supports Sharpton’s group, the National Action Network (NAN).

Horowitz forced CEO Ian Cook to admit that the company is a donor to NAN. Cook did not explain why the company denied it in October 2009.

Here are Horowitz’ remarks:
                
I’d like to focus on recent donations by Colgate-Palmolive to National Action Network, headed by Rev. Al Sharpton.

Peter Flaherty, our organization’s president, raised this issue two years ago at this meeting. He noted in front of shareholders that Colgate-Palmolive had accepted a “corporate excellence” award from Sharpton. He then asked a logical question: Did Colgate-Palmolive give to National Action Network, and, if so, how much? … Read More ➡

Goldman Sachs Ripped on Embrace of Global Warming

Goldman Sachs logoMy remarks at Goldman Sachs annual meeting today:

I regret that management opposes our resolution asking for a report on the science behind Goldman’s public positions on global warming. In 2005, Goldman Sachs established its “Environmental Policy Framework,” which stated:

“Goldman Sachs acknowledges the scientific consensus, led by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that climate change is a reality and that human activities are largely responsible for increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere.”

IPCC, an organization of the United Nations, does not conduct its own scientific research but relies on the research of others, such as the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia.

In late 2009, CRU became embroiled in the “Climategate” scandal, after hacked emails and documents were placed on the internet suggesting that CRU and/or collaborating scientists elsewhere:

1)    Sought to exaggerate data supportive of global warming.

2)    Sought … Read More ➡

PepsiCo’s Lobbying for Cap and Trade Hit at Annual Meeting

Nooyi photoNLPC is the sponsor of a shareholder proposal that asks PepsiCo to report on its lobbying priorities. Here are my remarks today at the PepsiCo annual meeting in Plano, Texas:

I regret that PepsiCo opposes this resolution asking for a report on the company’s lobbying priorities. I would think that management would welcome the opportunity to explain its priorities.

PepsiCo is a member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership a coalition of corporations and environmental groups. USCAP’s mission is to “quickly enact strong national legislation to require significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.” The House of Representatives has obliged in the form of the Waxman-Markey bill. According to the Heritage Foundation, this bill would destroy over 1.1 million jobs, hike electricity rates 90 percent, and reduce the U.S. gross domestic product by nearly $10 trillion over the next 25 years.

If consumers have to spend all their money on their … Read More ➡

PepsiCo’s Lobbying for Cap and Trade to be Hit at Annual Meeting

PepsiCo logoNLPC is sponsoring a PepsiCo shareholder proposal asking for a report on the company’s lobbying priorities. At the PepsiCo annual tomorrow in Plano, Texas, I will argue that the company’s lobbying priorities are seriously out of whack.

I will cite PepsiCo’s membership in U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), a coalition of corporations and environmental groups. USCAP’s mission is to “quickly enact strong national legislation to require significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.” The House of Representatives has obliged in the form of the Waxman-Markey bill that would destroy over 1.1 million jobs, hike electricity rates 90 percent, and reduce the U.S. gross domestic product by nearly $10 trillion over the next 25 years.

Corporate membership in USCAP has become controversial in the wake of the “Climategate” scandal, and as the prospects for cap and trade have ebbed. BP, ConocoPhillips, and Caterpillar have withdrawn from the group. I will propose … Read More ➡

Will Goldman Sachs Now End the Sanctimony?

Blankfein photoWith the SEC now charging Goldman Sachs with a billion dollar fraud, I hope CEO Lloyd Blankfein and his colleagues will end the sanctimony and indignation that has characterized their response to recent criticism of the firm, some of it coming from these quarters. The SEC charges come a day after reports surfaced that Goldman director Rajat Guptatold is under investigation for his possible role in the separate Galleon insider trading case.

We do not subscribe to the wilder conspiracy theories about Goldman, but we do have serious concerns in two areas:

1) Goldman Sachs exercizes undue influence on the government through a network of former Goldman executives who have rotated in and out of powerful government posts.

2) Goldman Sachs is one of the most profitable firms in the country. Yet, its executives and the company itself bankroll and promote of host of anti-business causes.

Neither of these things … Read More ➡

Prokhorov NBA Bid Gets Scrutiny; ACORN-Funder Ratner Needs Russian Billionaire to Build Brooklyn Arena

Ratner & ProkhorovBruce Ratner is a New York real estate developer and owner of the New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association. For five years, he’s been trying to move the team to a new arena in Brooklyn that he hopes to build, relying on New York’s powers of eminent domain to move hundreds of homeowners and businessmen out of their quarters.

The Brooklyn arena project, known as Atlantic Yards, is on life support. It is only being kept alive by an investment of Russia’s richest man, Mikhail Prokhorov, who is reportedly worth more than $13 billion. He is investing $200 million with Ratner for a 85% ownership interest in the Nets, and a 45% interest in the $4.9 billion arena project, which includes residential and office towers.

NBA owners are expected to soon vote on approving Prokhorov’s ownership bid, but today’s New York Post spotlights Prokhorov’s business dealings in Zimbabwe, … Read More ➡

Robert Rubin is a Disgrace

Rubin photoRobert Rubin’s obstinate performance yesterday on Capitol Hill is sure to fuel popular disgust with the bank bailouts. Rubin appeared to be what he is, someone who has walked away with so much money that he doesn’t have to answer to anyone. When he was responsive, Rubin tried to claim that he had nothing to do with Citigroup’s meltdown. He also tried to make it complicated, which it is not.

All you have to do is read pages 145 and 146 of Charlie Gasparino’s book, titled The Sellout, for a concise account of Rubin’s role in leveraging up Citigroup. Rubin not only pushed for more risk-taking at Citigroup’s executive and board levels, but he also “was making the rounds of the various departments and talking to people about taking more risk.”

I’ve never been a big fan of trial by Congressional hearing. This one was handed over to the … Read More ➡

Emails Confirm NLPC Finding That Google Ignores Video Copyright

Google logoA federal judge recently gave us some fascinating reading when he ordered the release of documents in Viacom’s $1 billion lawsuit against YouTube, now owned by Google. Viacom has alleged that YouTube violated its copyrights on over 100,000 clips, including those of its most popular shows like South Park and The Daily Show.

The emails, obtained by Viacom as part of the litigation discovery process, reveal more than indifference to copyright, or simply looking the other way. Indeed, they chronicle a race to the bank by the YouTube founders who sought to build their user base by offering copyrighted material, in order to sell the company before the scope of what they were doing became apparent.

Even more remarkably, Google executives were among the few people outside of YouTube who fully understood that YouTube’s success was based primarily on copyrighted material. But they went ahead and bought YouTube anyway in … Read More ➡

SEC Rules Wal-Mart Cannot Exclude NLPC Shareholder Proposal on ObamaCare, Cap and Trade

Mike DukeThe Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will not allow Wal-Mart to exclude from consideration an NLPC-sponsored shareholder proposal asking for a report on the company’s lobbying priorities. Wal-Mart suddenly finds itself on the opposite side of public opinion on ObamaCare and cap and trade, after having embraced both last year.

On January 9, Wal-Mart sought to preclude a shareholder discussion of these issues by asking the SEC if it could exclude our resolution on the grounds that it “does not focus on, or implicate, a significant social policy.” Oh, really?

The SEC disagreed. Our resolution must now appear in the Wal-Mart proxy, and I will have the right to speak at the annual meeting in early June. Even after losing at the SEC, Wal-Mart still refuses to address the issues raised by the resolution. In its statement of opposition, it can’t even bring itself to mention ObamaCare or cap and … Read More ➡