DTE Energy | Lobbying Expenditures Disclosure at DTE Energy

29.68% votes in favour
AGM date
Previous AGM date
Proposal number
Resolution details
Company ticker
Resolution ask
Report on or disclose
ESG theme
  • Governance
ESG sub-theme
  • Lobbying / political engagement
Type of vote
Shareholder proposal
Filer type
Company sector
Company HQ country
United States
Resolved clause
RESOLVED, the shareholders of DTE request the preparation of a report, updated annually, disclosing:
- Company policy and procedures governing lobbying, both direct and indirect, and grassroots lobbying communications.
- Payments by DTE used for (a) direct or indirect lobbying or (b) grassroots lobbying communications, in each case including the amount of the payment and the recipient.
- DTE’s membership in and payments to any tax-exempt organization that writes and endorses model legislation.
- Description of management’s decision-making process and the Board’s oversight for making payments described in sections 2 and 3 above.
For purposes of this proposal, a “grassroots lobbying communication” is a communication directed to the general public that (a) refers to specific legislation or regulation, (b) reflects a view on the legislation or regulation and (c) encourages the recipient of the communication to take action with respect to the legislation or regulation. “Indirect lobbying” is lobbying engaged in by a trade association or other organization of which DTE is a member.
Both “direct and indirect lobbying” and “grassroots lobbying communications” include efforts at the local, state and federal levels.
The report shall be presented to the Public Policy and Responsibility Committee and posted on DTE’s website.
Whereas clause
WHEREAS, we believe in full disclosure of DTE Energy’s (“DTE’s”) lobbying activities and expenditures to assess whether DTE’s lobbying is consistent with DTE’s expressed goals and in shareholder interests.
Supporting statement
DTE fails to provide an annual report breaking out its lobbying by federal amounts, individual states and payments to social welfare groups (SWGs), as requested. DTE spent $13,830,000 from 2010 – 2021 on federal lobbying. This does not include state lobbying, where DTE also lobbies, for example spending $894,869.33 on lobbying in Michigan from 2019 through 2021.1
Companies can give unlimited amounts to third party groups that spend millions on lobbying and often undisclosed grassroots activity. These groups may be spending “at least double what’s publicly reported.”2 DTE discloses its payments to trade associations that lobby, but critically fails to disclose its payments to politically active SWGs, like the Clean and Sustainable Energy Fund and Michigan Energy First. DTE’s disclosure is also incomplete for trade associations, failing to disclose any 2021 payments to the National Association of Manufacturers, where it sits on the board.
DTE’s lack of disclosure presents reputational risk when it hides payments to dark money SWGS or its lobbying contradicts company public positions. Highlighting these risks, DTE’s peer FirstEnergy was fined $230 million for funneling $60 million through SWG Generation Now in an Ohio bribery scandal.3
DTE’s support for the Clean and Sustainable Energy Fund and Michigan Energy First has come under scrutiny in California for funding research supporting carbon capture in California.4
We believe it is a risk for shareholders that “DTE does not disclose its 501(c)(4) contributions and has urged shareholders for years to reject investor board resolutions that call for transparency.”5
1 https://wethepeoplemi.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/REPORT-The-Publics-Case-Against-DTE-20220613.pdf.2 https://theintercept.com/2019/08/06/business-group-spending-on-lobbying-in-washington-is-at-least-double-whats-publicly- reported/.3 https://www.npr.org/2021/07/23/1019567905/an-energy-company-behind-a-major-bribery-scandal-in-ohio-will-pay-a-230- million-.4 https://www.latimes.com/environment/newsletter/2022-06-23/michigan-energy-firm-dark-money-california-climate-plans- boiling-point.5 https://www.energyandpolicy.org/michigan-front-group-protect-our-values-connected-to-dte-energy/.

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