By Jay Foster
Foster is president of SoftSolutions, Inc. in Roanoke.
An open letter to fellow shareholders of FedGov.com:
As an entrepreneur with a passion for fair play and ethical leadership, I find it helpful to think of our federal government as a business and the president as its CEO. “FedGov.com” has 2 million employees, plus an additional 1.4 million active military personnel, and runs a $4.5 trillion budget that includes everything from defense to transportation to overseeing interstate commerce.
In this business analogy, the board of directors is congress. Citizens are the shareholders. One vote equates to one share of stock. This is our company. Whereas we have a diverse range of shareholder interests, we all share a common goal of seeing our company succeed and thrive for future generations.
Note that FedGov.com is not a sole-proprietorship or a family owned business. It is a corporation with clear by-laws as defined by our constitution. The CEO serves at the pleasure of the shareholders and is also accountable to the board of directors through a clear set of checks and balances.
Whereas our hypothetical company has been highly prosperous over the past two centuries, anyone with an understanding of business can assess that FedGov.com is headed towards financial bankruptcy. There is a $23 trillion debt on the balance sheet, with a forecasted annual loss of $1 trillion per year on the Profit and Loss for the foreseeable future.
As shareholders, it is in our self-interest to hold our corporate officers and directors accountable. There are challenges ahead for our larger economy that will depend upon a healthy FedGov.com to weather the storm(s). The consequences of shareholder inaction are significant and growing.
This brings us to president Trump and a well-documented pattern of highly unethical behaviors while serving as our CEO. In the most recently documented case, he put a freeze on nearly $400M in shareholder funds that the board allocated to a strategic partner, Ukraine. There is mounting evidence that these funds were being held in a quid pro quo fashion to motivate a foreign government to help get President Trump re-hired next November.
Our CEO asked the president of Ukraine for a personal favor on a business call, while on the company clock. Specifically, he wanted Ukraine’s president to publicly allege that Joe Biden, his top contender for the CEO job, was involved in corrupt activities. The facts of this embarrassing call are not in dispute.
In the world of business, such a blatant violation of the corporate trust for personal gain by a CEO would likely result in either termination by the board or at minimum a severe reprimand and probationary period.
Impeachment is the HR process provided in our by-laws to enable the board to fire the CEO for criminal or ethical violations. Our Vice president takes the CEO position until the next four-year employment contract is renewed.
However, the chair of our Senate board of directors at FedGov.com, Mitch McConnell, is now indicating that he will blindly side with the CEO and let this unethical behavior go completely unchecked. Further indication that our company has corruption problems that exceed an unethical CEO.
The call to action is simple. As a shareholder, educate yourself on the facts – certainly not the blustery pandering of an amoral CEO — and make your voice heard accordingly. Write or call your representatives. Demand that our board of directors take this offense seriously and call for more direct testimony from those who have a first-hand understanding of our CEO’s motives.
If additional evidence can prove this call with Ukraine was somehow legitimate and part of our nation’s best interest, then President Trump deserves to be exonerated. If not, then he should be fired or severely reprimanded such that unethical behaviors cannot be spun into an asset for getting re-hired. We shareholders have a right to see this HR process completed properly.
If our board is not willing to take this offense seriously, then shareholders need to further organize and work to replace not only the CEO but the board of directors as well, starting next November.
There is serious work that is not getting done in the meantime. History will not be kind to our generation of shareholders for allowing this great experiment in self-government to fail on our watch.