Outcome: Successfully Withdrawn
Whereas, businesses, like individuals, have a recognized legal right to express opinions to legislators and regulators on public policy matters.
It is important that our company’s lobbying positions, and processes to influence public policy, are transparent. Public opinion is skeptical of corporate influence on Congress and public policy and questionable lobbying activity may pose risks to our company’s reputation when controversial positions are embraced. Hence, we believe full disclosure of FedEx’s policies, procedures and oversight mechanisms is warranted.
Resolved, the stockholders of FedEx Corporation (“FedEx”) request the Board authorize the preparation of a report, updated annually, and disclosing:
1. Company policy and procedures governing the lobbying of legislators and regulators, including that done on our company’s behalf by trade associations. The disclosure should include both direct and indirect lobbying and grassroots lobbying communications.
2. A listing of payments (both direct and indirect, including payments to trade associations) used for direct lobbying as well as grassroots lobbying communications, including the amount of the payment and the recipient.
3. Membership in and payments to any tax-exempt organization that writes and endorses model legislation.
4. Description of the decision making process and oversight by the management and Board for
a. direct and indirect lobbying contribution or expenditure; and
b. payment for grassroots lobbying expenditure.
For purposes of this proposal, a “grassroots lobbying communication” is a communication directed to the general public that (a) refers to specific legislation, (b) reflects a view on the legislation and (c) encourages the recipient of the communication to take action with respect to the legislation.
Both “direct and indirect lobbying” and “grassroots lobbying communications” include efforts at the local, state and federal levels.
The report shall be presented to the Audit Committee of the Board or other relevant oversight committees of the Board and posted on the company’s website.
As stockholders, we encourage transparency and accountability in the use of staff time and corporate funds to influence legislation and regulation both directly and indirectly. We believe such disclosure is in stockholders’ best interests. Absent a system of accountability, company assets could be used for policy objectives contrary to FedEx’s long-term interests.
FedEx spent approximately $38.7 million in 2010 and 2011 on direct federal lobbying activities, according to disclosure reports. (US Senate Office of Public Records).This figure may not include grassroots lobbying to directly influence legislation by mobilizing public support or opposition. Also, not all states require disclosure of lobbying expenditures. And FedEx does not disclose its contributions to tax-exempt organizations that write and endorse model legislation, such as FedEx’s $25,000 contribution to the American Legislative Exchange Council (“ALEC”) annual meeting (http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/08/05/288823/alec-exposed-corporations-funding/).
Membership and financial support of ALEC became very controversial when ALEC’s role in creating and promoting model state legislation on Arizona style immigration bills, Stand Your Ground legislation, anti-environmental legislation and restrictions on voter registration was exposed.
Facing this controversy, companies like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, PepsiCo, Wendy’s and Kraft Foods withdrew their involvement and funding of ALEC.