By NCPPR, Special for USDR
Speaking on behalf of the National Center’s proposal, Danhof stated, in part:
“I find it very curious that many leftist politicians, organizations and commentators in the media have spent the better part of the past six years bemoaning corporate involvement in political activity. Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC (which simply affirmed that corporations and unions have First Amendment free speech rights), to hear liberal talking heads tell it, the world would stop spinning due to corporate involvement in political activities. But when corporations such as Eli Lilly and Coca-Cola use their bully pulpits to spew invectives regarding religious freedom laws, the left cheers corporate involvement in the political process,” said Danhof. “This is the hallmark of a movement that lacks basic principles.”
“Liberal shareholder activists have filed hundreds of shareholder resolutions over the past few years and spent untold sums to denounce corporate involvement in any political or policy activity that might be considered conservative,” said Danhof. “But they have no problem with corporations using their power to advance far-left agendas.”
“Eli Lilly is violating a basic principle of business,” added Amy Ridenour, chairman of the National Center for Public Policy Research. “Don’t disrespect your customers, lest they disrespect you in return. Eli Lilly might claim its activism on lesbian and gay rights and gender identity issues was done to be inclusive, but the path Eli Lilly chose unnecessarily excluded others. The religious protections Eli Lilly opposed have been around for years. Everyone’s rights and freedoms could have been respected.”
“Eli Lilly does business in places where people have no basic civil rights,” Ridenour continued, “including the right to practice the religion of their choice. In that light, I suppose it is not odd that the company is standing against the continuation of long-held religious protection laws here in America. It appears likely that religious freedom is not its thing. Standing up for it certainly isn’t.”
The National Center’s complete shareholder resolution, and Eli Lilly’s response to it, can be found on pages 56 and 57 of the company’s proxy statement, which is available for download here.
Eli Lilly petitioned the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, seeking to block the National Center’s proposal. However, the National Center’s legal team, also led by Danhof, prevailed in convincing the SEC that its proposal was so significant that the company’s shareholders should have a say on the matter.
The entire legal exchange between Eli Lilly and the National Center, along with the SEC’s decision, can be downloaded here.
After Danhof presented a similar proposal ton General Electric’s investors last week, he also made these observations about the current state of the national debate over religious freedom laws:
“Religious freedom laws in the United States, whether federal or state, simply set a high bar for government action that might interfere with an individual’s deeply held religious beliefs. To pass such an infringing law, the government must prove that it has a compelling interest in doing so, and if the government can reach that compelling interest by other means, the courts will direct it to use those other means. That’s all these laws do. The public debate over these laws are often void of these very basic facts.”
“Furthermore, the left’s newest attack on religious liberty has all the trappings of a fundraising ploy. Many liberal organizations spent years raising hundreds of millions of dollars in the fight to legalize gay marriage. Perhaps winning that battle too quickly left a hole in the movement and the pockets of pro-gay marriage leaders. In that light, it is easy to understand why they concocted this fake outrage over basic religious freedom that has been a non-controversial issue in American jurisprudence for hundreds of years and a matter of state and federal law since the early 1990s.”
The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project is the nation’s preeminent free-market activist group focusing on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. In 2014-15, National Center representatives participated in 69 shareholder meetings advancing free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and many other important public policy issues. Today’s Eli Lilly meeting marks its seventh shareholder meeting of 2016.