SEC Rule 14a-8 (the shareholder proposal rule) allows shareholders to put proposals on their company's proxy statement and thereby force a shareholder vote on the proposal. As the SEC explains:
Rule 14a-8 provides an opportunity for a shareholder owning a relatively small amount of a company's securities to have his or her proposal placed alongside management's proposals in that company's proxy materials for presentation to a vote at an annual or special meeting of shareholders. It has become increasingly popular because it provides an avenue for communication between shareholders and companies, as well as among shareholders themselves. The rule generally requires the company to include the proposal unless the shareholder has not complied with the rule's procedural requirements or the proposal falls within one of the 13 substantive bases for exclusion described in the table below. ...
To be eligible to submit a proposal, rule 14a-8(b) requires the shareholder to have continuously held at least $2,000 in market value, or 1%, of the company's securities entitled to be voted on the proposal at the meeting for at least one year by the date of submitting the proposal. Also, the shareholder must continue to hold those securities through the date of the meeting.
The rule came to mind when I was reading a press release from the National Center for Public Policy Research:
At the annual Groupon shareholder meeting Tuesday in Chicago, The National Center for Public Policy Research requested and received a pledge from Groupon management that it will be "content neutral" in regard to the deals it offers to Groupon members.
The National Center's Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhofattended the meeting to request the content neutrality pledge after PETA announced it will attend Groupon's 2015 shareholder meeting to ask Groupon to adopt a content bias policy that would prohibit circuses from offering deals to Groupon members. ...
It seems that hardly a week goes by without a news story about left-wing organizations pressuring businesses to cave in and endorse some aspect of the left-wing agenda," said Amy Ridenour, chairman of the National Center. "We learned from a story by Ellen Jean Hurst in the April 22 Chicago Tribune that PETA plans to attend Groupon's 2015 shareholder meeting to pressure Groupon into becoming one of its activists. Unfortunately for PETA, it did not buy shares soon enough to attend this year's meeting, but we did. So we went first. We asked Groupon to be content-neutral; that is, equally fair to every point of view and every legal product. We are pleased to say that Groupon not only said 'yes,' but did so emphatically. We congratulate Groupon's management." ...
Justin Danhof, representing the National Center for Public Policy Research, will attend Amazon.com's annual shareholder meeting in Seattle. Like Groupon, Amazon.com is being pressured by left-wing activists to treat certain segments of the population differently, depending upon the activities of their legal businesses or their political or religious views. We will urge Amazon to be content neutral, as Groupon has pledged to be, always steadfast in its objectivity and treating everyone engaged in legal activities in an equal manner.
So here's my idea: We draft up a shareholder proposal requesting that the board of directors of various companies (target list to come) adopt a content neutral policy. We then identify conservatives who are shareholders of the target company and assist them in putting the proposal on the target company proxy.
Anybody with me?