$125bn investor coalition presses Google on political spending, US Chamber

Stakeholders get “confused and conflicting messages” from company

A group of 26 investors with combined assets of more than $125bn (€94.3bn) have pressed Internet giant Google on its political spending policies and its membership of business lobby group the US Chamber of Commerce.
The investors include socially responsible groups such as Boston Common Asset Management and Green Century Capital Management. They have teamed up with campaign groups Public Citizen, the California Public Interest Group (CALPIRG) and SumOfUs, which have delivered petitions signed by a combined 300,000 people calling for the changes.
To coincide with Google’s annual meeting yesterday, the groups called on the company to leave the Chamber, which they termed a “trade association with a track record of advocating for corporate-friendly public policy positions that Google has claimed to oppose”.
“Google’s stated mission is ‘to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,’” said Boston Common’s Shareholder Engagement Manager Meredith Benton.“Yet, investors and other stakeholders, through Google’s membership in trade associations such as the Chamber of Commerce, are left with confused and conflicting messages about the company’s true policy interests and direction.”

Lucia von Reusner, shareholder advocate at Green Century added that Google’s support for the Chamber is “perceived as an implicit endorsement of controversial policies and positions that the company publicly claims to oppose, creating confusion and risks for shareholders”.
“It’s time for Google to align its actions with its values and end its association with the U.S. Chamber.”

A separate letter has been sent to Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Meanwhile, at the AGM, a proposal filed by SRI firm Pax World Mutual Funds on the disposal of lead at data centers, attracted support from a wide range of investors including the California Public Employees Retirement System, the Netherlands’ PGGM and SRI specialists such as Calvert Funds and Domini Social Funds.