Exxon Shareholders Refuse USW Request to Disclose Lobbying Expenses

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

Carrying their corporate campaign to the heart of the nation’s “oil patch,” refinery workers, all members of the United Steelworkers (USW), tried to curb ExxonMobil’s lobbying excesses at the firm’s May 30 shareholders meeting in Dallas.

But the institutional investors who hold huge quantities of stock in the nation’s largest oil company – which took in $269 billion in revenue last year -- didn’t agree.

Instead, they kowtowed to company execs who recommended rejection of the union’s plan for full disclosure of the firm’s federal, state and local lobbying. Shareholders voted the proposal down for the sixth straight year. Vote totals were unavailable. But the USW proposal drew 28 percent of shareholder votes last year.

USW Local 13-2001 President Ricky Brooks presented the union’s “sunshine” proposal. He was joined by USW National Oil Bargaining Director Kim Nibarger, who said the firm’s “shareholders have a right to know how ExxonMobil is spending their money to influence legislation and change regulatory protection that may not be in their or their family’s best interest.”  

As the USW campaigned for greater transparency inside the meeting, Australian workers forced to strike at an Exxon refinery Down Under marched on the sidewalk out front. “The Australians have some questions they want the company to answer,” the USW members said.

The Aussie workers had proxies to vote and questions to ask about Exxon’s ability to escape Australian taxes from 2013 until at least 2021, but security guards barred the workers from the meeting.

The USW’s resolution said the union and its allies “believe in full disclosure of ExxonMobil’s direct and indirect lobbying activities and expenditures to assess whether ExxonMobil’s lobbying is consistent with its expressed goals and in the best interests of shareholders.”

They demanded a yearly management report on company lobbying and procedures, including “grassroots lobbying communications,” how much ExxonMobil spends on lobbying and who it spends the money on and why. Firms such as ExxonMobil often establish fake grassroots lobbying groups with misleading names.

 

USW also demanded disclosure of “ExxonMobil’s membership in and payments to any tax-exempt organization that writes and endorses ‘model legislation’” – a dig at its sponsorship of a notorious corporate cabal, the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council. And it demanded the firm’s board disclose how it decides what to lobby on and how that is monitored.

ExxonMobil spent over $94 million on federal lobbying since 2010, the USW said. It also lobbies in 33 states, a Center for Public Integrity investigation showed. “But the company’s disclosure is uneven or absent. ExxonMobil does not provide this information, and it is only disclosed if reporters dig for it,” the union added. ExxonMobil, opposing the USW, said it produced “appropriate” disclosure of its lobbying. It didn’t define “appropriate.”

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Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

He Gets the Bucks, We Get All the Deadly Bangs

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre has had better weeks. First came the horrific early August slaughters in California, Texas, and Ohio that left dozens dead, murders that elevated public pressure on the NRA’s hardline against even the mildest of moves against gun violence. Then came revelations that LaPierre — whose labors on behalf of the nonprofit NRA have made him a millionaire many times over — last year planned to have his gun lobby group bankroll a 10,000-square-foot luxury manse near Dallas for his personal use. In response, LaPierre had his flacks charge that the NRA’s former ad agency had done the scheming to buy the mansion. The ad agency called that assertion “patently false” and related that LaPierre had sought the agency’s involvement in the scheme, a request the agency rejected. The mansion scandal, notes the Washington Post, comes as the NRA is already “contending with the fallout from allegations of lavish spending by top executives.”

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Corruption Coordinates

Corruption Coordinates