The National Center for Public Policy Research (http://www.nationalcenter.org/) says former Vice President and current member of Apple’s Board of Directors, Al Gore, is facing a conflict of interest in his duties in the latter position.
The Center, which submitted a shareholder proposal warning Appleabout potential conflicts of interest involving Gore in February, is now calling attention to what it says is a new potential conflict of interest directly involving Gore. It has recently been revealed that Apple’s massive new North Carolina data center will be powered by fuel cell technology supplied by Bloom Energy, a company whose investors include the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, where Gore is a partner.
The 4.8-megawatt power facility is reported to be the biggest fuel cell facility ever built by a non-utility company. Fuel cell technology uses hydrogen or natural gas to generate electricity by an electro-chemical process that does not involve combustion of carbon-based fuels.
”Apple buying technology from Bloom Energy, where Gore has a financial stake, is a clear conflict of interest,” says Tom Borelli, director of the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project. “Shareholders must question why Apple is choosing to pay a premium for alternative energy when there are many sources of cheaper energy available in North Carolina, such as coal.”
This new concern follows another conflict of interest matter involving Gore, he adds. On behalf of the National Center for Public Policy Research, an Apple shareholder, Borelli presented a conflict of interest shareholder proposal at Apple’s annual shareholder meeting in February. The proposal highlighted concerns that Gore influenced Apple’s decision to end its membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in order to benefit Gore’s personal investments in alternative energy technology. Apple’s management opposed the National Center’s proposal, which led to its defeat.
”We remain concerned that Gore is using his board position at Apple to get a financial return on his personal investments,” Borelli says. “First, we believe Gore played a role in making the company end its membership with the U.S. Chamber in an attempt to influence the trade group from lobbying against climate change regulations. Now Apple is reportedly investing millions of dollars in an alternative energy technology, with the money going to Bloom Energy, in which Gore’s firm has made significant investments.”
The National Center For Public Policy Research is a conservative, free-market, non-profit think-tank established in 1982.