After going to the US Securities and Exchange Commission to ask for permission to exclude a shareholder proposal mandating more diversity hires, Apple is asking the SEC for a similar pass to dodge votes on proposals about climate issue and human rights concerns, Reuters reports. In a letter to the SEC, Apple argued that at least four of the proposals it has fielded from shareholders relate to “ordinary business” and can be left off the proxy it is about to publish ahead of its annual shareholder meeting. Apple’s attorney specifically cited new guidance from the SEC issued in November, which gives company boards wide latitude in deciding which resolutions raise policy issues that warrant being put to a vote.
Sanford Lewis, an attorney representing Apple’s shareholders, said that the SEC siding with Apple “would be an incredibly dangerous precedent that would essentially say a great many proposals could be omitted.” The human rights issue is a particularly dicey one for Apple, with the shareholder meeting coming on the heels of increasing pressure from China to censor or eliminate what the government considers to be troublesome apps or content. A recent speech by Tim Cook during an internet conference in China drew criticism for the less than critical tone he struck amid other speeches that touted the value of censorship and regulating online and activities.