New Belgium Brewery, perhaps the most activist left-leaning business in the state, is lining up to become an early adopter of the state’s new corporate responsibility legal entity, the so-called Public Benefit Corporation. Legal experts are still undecided if an employee-owned enterprise will be a good fit, but that hasn’t stopped New Belgium from dreaming.
Recently signed by Governor Hickenlooper, this mostly useless law provides for businesses to be organized in such a manner that gives them safe harbor from shareholder lawsuits arising from a corporate desire to pursue social goals at the expense of the profit motive.
It’s understandable that this may appeal to the front that New Belgium wants to display. Their CEO attended the Democratic National Convention in 2012 and their Ft. Collins brewery plays host to events for “favored candidates.” It was the company’s director of sustainability who famously told the Wall Street Journal last year that the staff is pretty much unified on “partisan issues” as a result of them screening for “cultural fit” during the hiring process. Could you imagine what would happen if a company in the consumer/retail/beverage industry had a stated policy that they only hired conservatives?
It is New Belgium that supports radical environmental groups such as Frack Free Colorado, looking to drive a wedge between Colorado citizens and our burgeoning energy industry with junk science and propaganda. It was CEO Kim Jordan who was funding the 2012 ballot measure to ban fracking in Longmont.
We find all of this activity a little ironic, considering that New Belgium produces an alcoholic beverage. As Mercator Energy’s John Harpole brilliantly pointed out earlier this year, New Belgium is not exactly in the business of selling a healthy product, in fact, it is quite the opposite. It makes us wonder why they are so reactionary to the phantom issue of frack water 10,000 feet below the surface of the earth.
Best of luck to New Belgium in their trek to become chartered as a Public Benefit Corporation. Hopefully they can use this status to combat the negative externalities (e.g., drunk driving, domestic violence, liver disease, and more) caused by their product.