Ahead of Apple Inc.’s annual meeting on March 10, National Legal and Policy Center is calling upon its fellow shareholders in the company to support its proposal to provide greater transparency about its risks of doing business in China, and to join the organization to oppose the reelections of CEO Tim Cook and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore to the board of directors.
NLPC is sponsoring a “Communist China Audit” resolution at the meeting, which seeks an annual report to shareholders that addresses “the nature and extent to which corporate operations depend on, and are vulnerable to, communist China….” The item is Proposal No. 6, found on page 82 of Apple’s proxy statement. NLPC’s response to the Apple board’s opposition to its proposal was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in mid-February.
NLPC also reported to the SEC last month its opposition to the reelections of Cook and Gore to the company’s board of directors. An excerpt from NLPC’s filing on Cook says:
Since taking over as CEO in 2011, Mr. Cook has failed numerous times to live up to what he says are Apple’s ethical standards, and he has made multiple strategic mistakes that have cost the company billions of dollars. These include labor rights failures, privacy violations, and overreliance on China. But he is shielded from accountability, in part because of his position on Apple’s board. He should be removed as a director so the proper chain of command can be restored.
An excerpt of NLPC’s filing on Gore states:
Mr. Gore has held a position on Apple’s board since 2003, despite having no relevant experience in technology or core business functions. His primary benefit to the board is his supposed climate change expertise. However, Mr. Gore’s public reputation is inconsistent with his track record, his carbon-intensive lifestyle, and his actual investments. Instead, he has used his public advocacy as a tool for personal enrichment. In addition, his political activism poses to Apple a reputational risk that is not worth his limited skillset.
“It may be counterintuitive for shareholders to ‘upset the Apple-cart’ with our proposed changes, since the company is always among the highest valued in the world,” said Paul Chesser, director of NLPC’s Corporate Integrity Project. “But Corporate America is slow to recognize the threat from China, just like companies were caught by surprise by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and had to scramble to exit suddenly.”
“We don’t want to see a repeat if the saber-rattling communist government actually attacks Taiwan,” Chesser added. “Tim Cook was blindsided by China’s ‘zero COVID’ crackdowns last year and Apple’s holiday sales suffered greatly as a result, so he needs a ‘time-out’ while the board monitors his leadership further. And at this point Al Gore is a cartoon caricature who is routinely mocked and scorned – he needs to go as well.”