Former Trump adviser heads effort to crack down on climate shareholder resolutions
A former top energy and environment adviser to President Trump is leading an industry-backed effort to crack down on corporate shareholders’ resolutions on hot-button controversies like climate change.
George David Banks, who was the top White House adviser on international energy and environment policy, is serving as executive director of the project, dubbed the Main Street Investors Coalition.
In recent years, investors such as big firms, state pension funds and nongovernmental organizations have pushed shareholder votes — frequently nonbinding — asking corporations to take certain actions like better account for their greenhouse gas emissions or distance themselves from the gun industry, a process known as shareholder advocacy.
The new group, backed by the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Council for Capital Formation and the Savings & Retirement Foundation, argues that the resolutions hurt investors like 401(k) holders.
“The rise in low-fee passive investing has been a good thing for retail investors,” Banks said in a statement. “But as the size and influence of these massive institutional holders has grown, so too has their ability to drown-out the voices and interests of Main Street investors who, despite controlling the single largest pool of equity capital in the world, have no ability to influence the decisions these funds make on their behalf, with their money.”
The group will focus on public advocacy, trying to convince individual investors that the resolutions are a bad idea.
Banks is also the executive vice president of the American Council for Capital Formation and an adjunct professor at Columbia University.
He left the White House in February after he was denied a security clearance due to his admission that he smoked marijuana previously.
Banks had a leading role in the administration’s policies regarding the Paris climate agreement, energy-related sanctions and energy trade, among other matters.