WASHINGTON—Peter Flaherty, president of the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), today told British Petroleum, PLC to ignore a boycott called against the oil giant by Jesse Jackson this week at the annual Rainbow/PUSH conference in Chicago. BP is listed in the conference program as a Bronze Sponsor, a designation costing $10,000.
Flaherty said, “Jesse Jackson is bluffing a foreign company. He has virtually no ability to affect the consumer habits of Americans, or even African Americans. The reason he is going after BP is the same reason he threatened a boycott of Toyota in 2001. Executives of foreign companies are often under the misimpression that Jesse Jackson still commands wide respect in this country.”
“It is pretty obvious what is going on here. BP sponsors Jesse Jackson’s conference at the $10,000 level, but the company is certainly capable of a lot more. No doubt, Jackson seeks to upgrade them to the $150,000 Platinum sponsor level for next year.”
Flaherty also called on BP to end its support for Jackson. He pointed out, “The New York Stock Exchange and several companies are now saying ‘no’ to Jesse Jackson. There has been no retribution or negative consequences of any kind. Should BP continue or increase its support for Jackson, it could become controversial, as it has with other companies.”
NLPC sponsored shareholder proposals this spring with Citigroup, PepsiCo and Boeing requesting disclosure of charitable contributions. The supporting statements made specific reference to Rainbow/PUSH. A similar NLPC-sponsored resolution will be considered at the Freddie Mac annual meeting this summer.
In early 2005, the New York Stock Exchange confirmed that it had ended financial support for Jesse Jackson’s groups, in apparent response to NLPC protests.