Non-profit

Free Enterprise Project

Website:

nationalcenter.org/programs/free-enterprise-project/

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Director:

Justin Danhof

Formation:

2007

Type:

Shareholder Activism Project

The Free Enterprise Project is a program of the right-of-center National Center for Public Policy Research, a think tank based in Washington, D.C. The program works to promote center-right shareholder resolutions at corporate meetings and oppose those filed by left-of-center shareholder activism organizations including As You Sow. [1]

The Project works to oppose the left-of-center push known as corporate social responsibility, also known as “environmental, social, and governance” (ESG) activism. Through the umbrella of corporate social responsibility, left-of-center groups and activists have successfully gotten their own activists and supporters named to corporate boards and executive positions. Many of these newly left-of-center corporate boards and CEOs have weighed in on political issues in support of the political left and have cut ties with conservative organizations, such as the National Rifle Association. [2]

Among other work, the Free Enterprise Project produces its annual “Investor Value Voter Guide,” which advises conservative shareholders on what resolutions to support and oppose. [3] Starting in 2018, the Project began supporting “true board diversity” resolutions which seeks to increase the representation of conservatives on corporate boards in order to improve ideological diversity. [4]

Overview

The Free Enterprise Project was founded in 2007 by the National Center for Public Policy Research, a center-right think tank. The Project is one of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s main campaign. [5]

The Free Enterprise Project serves primarily as the main shareholder advocacy organization for the center-right, in addition to lobbying against left-of-center shareholder resolutions. The Project engages corporate CEOs and board members at shareholder meetings to influence voting on resolutions. The Free Enterprise Project also leads media campaigns to encourage corporations to stay focused on their missions, rather than catering to left-of-center objectives. [6]

The Project files more than 90% of all center-right shareholder resolutions, around 20 resolutions a year. Left-of-center organizations file around 95% of all ideological shareholder resolutions, creating between 400 and 500 resolutions a year. [7]

Investor Value Voter Guide

The Free Enterprise Project publishes an annual “Investor Value Voter Guide” that contains a summary of shareholder resolutions that have been filed by both the Project and its left-of-center rivals. The guide is then released to conservative investors to advise them on how to vote on shareholder resolutions. [8]

The Free Enterprise Project issues the guide in response to what it sees as growing left-leaning bias by the two primary proxy advising firms: Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis. The Project claims that left-of-center shareholder resolutions have been gaining support among shareholders due to support from ISS and Glass Lewis. [9]

“True Board Diversity” Resolutions

In 2018, the Free Enterprise Project began pushing for “true board diversity” resolutions which seek to increase the representation of conservatives on corporate boards. The resolutions are partially in response to shareholder resolutions by left-of-center groups that seek to impose gender and racial quotas on corporate boards. [10]

The Free Enterprise Project argues that corporations should hear conservative voices on corporate boards if they are going to get involved in politics. The Project has also argued that corporations which promote left-of-center views run the risk of alienating their conservative customers. [11]

When Justin Danhof, director of the Free Enterprise Project, presented such a resolution at Amazon’s shareholder meeting, Amazon shareholders heckled him, going so far as to falsely call him a KKK member. [12]

Leadership

Attorney Justin Danhof has been director of the project since 2012. [13] Scott Shepard is the deputy director of the Free Enterprise Project. Shepard is an attorney who formerly worked as a policy director at the Yankee Institute in Connecticut. Shepard was also formerly manager of the Water Law Project at the Pacific Legal Institute. [14]

References

  1.            “Free Enterprise Project”. 2021. National Center For Public Policy Research. Accessed April 18. https://nationalcenter.org/programs/free-enterprise-project/. ^
  2.         Hogberg, David. 2019. “The Left’S Next Culture War: How The Free Enterprise Project Is Fighting Back”. Capital Research Center. https://capitalresearch.org/article/the-lefts-next-culture-war-part-4/. ^
  3. Investor Value Voter Guide. 2020. Ebook. Washington, D.C.: Free Enterprise Project. https://nationalcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Investor_Value_Voter_Guide_2020_web.pdf.    ^
  4. Hogberg, David. 2019. “The Left’S Next Culture War: How The Free Enterprise Project Is Fighting Back”. Capital Research Center. https://capitalresearch.org/article/the-lefts-next-culture-war-part-4/. ^
  5.      “Free Enterprise Project”. 2021. National Center For Public Policy Research. Accessed April 18. https://nationalcenter.org/programs/free-enterprise-project/. ^
  6. “Free Enterprise Project”. 2021. National Center For Public Policy Research. Accessed April 18. https://nationalcenter.org/programs/free-enterprise-project/. ^
  7. Hogberg, David. 2019. “The Left’S Next Culture War: How The Free Enterprise Project Is Fighting Back”. Capital Research Center. https://capitalresearch.org/article/the-lefts-next-culture-war-part-4/. ^
  8. Investor Value Voter Guide. 2020. Ebook. Washington, D.C.: Free Enterprise Project. https://nationalcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Investor_Value_Voter_Guide_2020_web.pdf. ^
  9. Investor Value Voter Guide. 2020. Ebook. Washington, D.C.: Free Enterprise Project. https://nationalcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Investor_Value_Voter_Guide_2020_web.pdf. ^
  10.   Hogberg, David. 2019. “The Left’S Next Culture War: How The Free Enterprise Project Is Fighting Back”. Capital Research Center. https://capitalresearch.org/article/the-lefts-next-culture-war-part-4/. ^
  11. Hogberg, David. 2019. “The Left’S Next Culture War: How The Free Enterprise Project Is Fighting Back”. Capital Research Center. https://capitalresearch.org/article/the-lefts-next-culture-war-part-4/. ^
  12. Hogberg, David. 2019. “The Left’S Next Culture War: How The Free Enterprise Project Is Fighting Back”. Capital Research Center. https://capitalresearch.org/article/the-lefts-next-culture-war-part-4/. ^
  13. “Free Enterprise Project”. 2021. National Center For Public Policy Research. Accessed April 18. https://nationalcenter.org/programs/free-enterprise-project/. ^
  14. “Free Enterprise Project”. 2021. National Center For Public Policy Research. Accessed April 18. https://nationalcenter.org/programs/free-enterprise-project/. ^
  See an error? Let us know!