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Friday
Apr242015

Bill O'Reilly is All Over Our Question to GE's Jeff Immelt

***Media alert: Tune in to Fox's O'Reilly Factor tonight to see our Justin Danhof discuss his question to Jeffrey Immelt, our colleague David Almasi's question to Boeing CEO W. James McNerney, and the crime of honest services fraud. It promises to be an exciting show.***

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On Thursday Evening, Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly covered our Justin Danhof asking General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt if he would release GE's written communications with the State Department during the time State was helping GE with a deal in Algeria, and GE was donating to the Clinton Foundation.

Folks will recall that Secretary Clinton used a personal server for her emails while she was employed by the State Department, so any copies of emails at this point presumably are on the servers of those with whom she was corresponding.

O'Reilly discussed the situation at length in his "Talking Points Memo," and then went on to discuss it throughout his show, including with Fox's Bret Baier...

...and Judge Andrew Napolitano...

The National Center has been questioning why corporations receiving help from the State Department have been donating to the Clinton Foundation since April 2014, when the National Center's Executive Director, David Almasi, a Boeing shareholder, asked Boeing CEO W. James McNerney about possible conflicts of interest between Boeing's philanthropy and actions by senior public officials. David raised the question of whether Boeing had unnecessarily exposed itself to the danger of being prosecuted for honest services fraud.

A description of David's confrontation at Boeing, and Washington Post coverage of it, is available here.

On Thursday night, Bill O'Reilly discussed our question to GE's CEO with Charles Krauthammer, who didn't seem to have heard of honest services fraud. (Again, I suggest he read the press release we issued after David Almasi attended the Boeing shareholder meeting.)

Charles Krauthammer insists this is about specific politicians. We disagree. Politicians and government officials come and go. Corporations have been paying for access for decades. If the public, and corporate shareholders, confront these CEOs, and insist they stop, there is hope for reform.

When it comes to Boeing and General Electric, it is important to note that we have no evidence anything illegal happened here, and there may well have been no wrongdoing at either company. Our concern as shareholders -- and we did approach both companies as shareholders -- is that honest services fraud is vague (once again, see our Boeing press release). A company can be totally innocent and yet get caught up in a defense that costs a lot of money and harms the company's brand. It is much safer for companies to avoid contributions to ALL charities connected to ALL politicians and government officials entirely, but CEOs, at least so far, don't seem to be aware of this.

As Americans, too, we're better off not wondering if our government officials are doing things because they believe those things are in the best interest of the United States, or because a foundation the official is connected to received a contribution.

In short, when it comes to making contributions to government-official-connected foundations, even contributions made with the best and most pure intentions, corporations should "just say no."

On Friday night, Justin is scheduled to appear on the O'Reilly Factor to discuss his question to Jeffrey Immelt, our colleague David Almasi's question to Boeing CEO W. James McNerney, and honest services fraud generally, in much more detail. We encourage everyone to tune in!

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