Tea party-affiliated groups call for Immelt to resign from GE because of work for Obama


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General Electric Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt‘s decision to help the Obama administration by heading a new economic advisory panel has sparked outrage from some conservatives and has led to a renewed campaign to force his resignation by groups affiliated with the tea party.

Calling the appointment ‘crony corporatism in its purest form,’ FreedomWorks and the Free Enterprise Project said Immelt would use his new position to lobby for government policies that help GE.


The groups unveiled an online video (above) Monday, said they planned also to run ads on cable TV and are asking people to sign an online letter to Immelt requesting he resign from GE because he has ‘abandoned the tenets of free enterprise to profit from President Obama’s progressive political agenda.’

‘For too long, corporate elites have lobbied to profit from the size and growth of government at the expense of hard-working Americans,’ said FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe. ‘We’re here to let President Obama and Jeffery Immelt know that the days of easy money through backroom deals are over.’

FreedomWorks, led by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, is a Washington-based advocacy group that has supported the tea party movement by organizing major rallies, endorsing candidates and leading the effort to crafting a tea party agenda in Congress. Tom Borelli, director of the Free Enterprise Project, has been an outspoken tea party supporter and longtime critic of GE.

The groups have been upset at Immelt since early in the Obama administration -- the petition calling for him to resign was launched back in June. . . .

They have slammed him for, among other things, supporting the $787-billion economic stimulus package and Obama’s proposed cap-and-trade policy to deal with carbon emissions. Support for both were aimed at helping GE’s bottom line because of its work making wind turbines and other alternative energy equipment, the groups said. ‘True economic growth and job creation come from private sector innovation, independent from taxpayer money and government mandates and regulation, Borelli said.

The online ad also slammed Immelt for employing sharp-tongued liberal MSNBC host Keith Olbermann. It showed an image of Olbermann -- who abruptly left MSNBC last week -- as an announcer said Immelt ‘allowed verbal attacks on patriotic Americans.’ Comcast Corp. will take over control of MSNBC and the rest of NBC Universal next week.


Obama appointed Immelt to his Presidential Economic Recovery Advisory Board in 2009 and on Friday announced he would head a new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The advisory panel will be made up of business, labor and academic leaders and offer Obama periodic feedback on improving economic growth.

Others have raised concerns about conflicts of interest with Immelt helping advise Obama. But Immelt has offered no apologies in the past. The Atlantic quoted him as saying last year that ‘the fact that I’d like GE to work in concert with where government policy is in the U.S. doesn’t mean that I’m a traitor or a bad guy. I think it’s just being practical that that’s gotta happen.’

GE spokesman Gary Sheffer said Immelt’s work with the White House has followed government ethics requirements.

‘Jeff agreed to serve on the jobs council as a public service because he was asked by the president and he is going to work on behalf of the American people with a diverse set of people from business and labor that will be part of the council,’ Sheffer said.

-- Jim Puzzanghera