General Electric

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Campaign to Fix the Debt
Company Profile
Company Name General Electric
CEO Name Jeffrey Immelt
CEO Compensation $21,581,228
CEO Retirement Assets $53,301,387
Underfunded Company Pension -$21,756,000,000
Annual Company Revenue $147,300,000,000
Tax Dodger ('08-'10) -45.3%
Territorial Tax Break $35,700,000,000
Federal Lobbying/Political Donations ('09-'12*) $107,770,000
Click here for sources.
2011 data unless otherwise noted.
©2013 Center for Media and Democracy

General Electric (GE) is one of the world's largest corporations and is a major manufacturer of products from "jet engines to power generation, financial services to plastics, and medical imaging to news and information." [2] The company has more than 95 subsidiaries including GE Healthcare, GE Plastics, GE Security, General Electric Capital Corporation, NBC, MSNBC, Bravo, SCI FI Channel, USA Network, and Universal Studios.

[1]GE sold its shares of NBCUniversal and other television assets to Comcast for $18.1 billion in February 2013.[2]

In 2011, GE reported $147,300,000,000

Ties to Pete Peterson's "Fix the Debt"

The Campaign to Fix the Debt is the latest incarnation of a decades-long effort by former Nixon man turned Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson to slash earned benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare under the guise of fixing the nation's "debt problem."

This article is part of the Center for Media and Democracy's investigation of Pete Peterson's Campaign to "Fix the Debt." Please visit our main SourceWatch page on Fix the Debt.

About Fix the Debt
The Campaign to Fix the Debt is the latest incarnation of a decades-long effort by former Nixon man turned Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson to slash earned benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare under the guise of fixing the nation's "debt problem." Through a special report and new interactive wiki resource, the Center for Media and Democracy -- in partnership with the Nation magazine -- exposes the funding, the leaders, the partner groups, and the phony state "chapters" of this astroturf supergroup. Learn more at and in the Nation magazine.

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

General Electric has been a corporate funder of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)[3], and a member of ALEC's Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force[4]. See ALEC Corporations for more.

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's, and check out breaking news on our site.

Paying More for Lobbying than in Taxes

Public Campaign Profit Taxes & Lobbying Corp. Chart.png

In December 2011, the organization Public Campaign published a report called "For Hire: Lobbyists or the 99%?" on corporations that have paid more on lobbying than on federal taxes. General Electric topped the list, with $10,460 million in profits from 2008-2010, a net gain of $4,737 million in taxes (after receiving tax rebates) and a total expenditure of $84.35 million on lobbying.[5]

PR and lobbying industry cleans up, Hudson River loses out

From 1990 to 2005, General Electric spent more than $122 million on public relations, lobbying and legal efforts "to fight demands that it clean up three contaminated polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) sites," reports O'Dwyer's. The three sites are "a 200-mile stretch of the Hudson River (the nation's biggest Superfund site), Housatonic River (Pittsfield, MA) and a transformer facility (Rome, GA)." [3]

GE's disclosure came after a decade of pressure from the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment, a coalition of Roman Catholic groups that filed shareholder resolutions requesting the information. Coalition director Patricia Daly said the money could "have gone a long, long way in cleaning up the problem," had it not been "wasted on PR, lobbying and courtroom delaying tactics." The Environmental Protection Agency ordered GE to clean up the Hudson in 2002.

"In October 2005, more than 20 years after the EPA designated the Hudson River among the worst Superfund sites, GE agreed in a settlement to begin dredging the river. The EPA estimated that dredging the toxic sediment would cost $700 million by the time the project was complete. But the agreement obligates GE for costs only in the first year, which could allow the company to avoid $600 million in cleanup costs, according to Leo Rosales, who was an EPA spokesman at the time."

Tobacco industry involvement

General Electric worked with Philip Morris circa 1984-1985 to provide a power source for a confidential non-combusting smoking article "that can satisfy smokers without the properties of conventional cigarettes such as sidestream smoke. Philip Morris was interested in using "photoflash bulbs" as heat or power sources for these experimental smoking articles, and obtained these from GE.[6]The project was known internally at Philip Morris as Project Advance. In recent years, tobacco companies have labeled electronic cigarettes. [7]

Labor Issues

The nonprofit economic research organization, Policy Matters Ohio, interviewed workers in 2007 in one of GE's Chinese suppliers and published a report of their findings in 2008. Xiamen Topstar Lighting Co., a joint venture of GE and China's Topstar, employs 6,000 people in Fujian Province making compact (and energy efficient) florescent lightbulbs for GE. Policy Matters Ohio investigators found a range of unfair and unsafe labor practices, including 64-hour workweeks without overtime pay or worker access to their own paystubs. They also found that workers were being exposed to mercury without their knowledge.[8]

Violation Tracker
Discover Which Corporations are the Biggest Violators of Environmental, Health and Safety Laws in the United States
Violation Tracker is the first national search engine on corporate misconduct covering environmental, health, and safety cases initiated by 13 federal regulatory agencies. Violation Tracker is produced by the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First. Click here to access Violation Tracker.


GE Energy Financial Services, GE's energy investing arm, owns 51.5% of the coal-fired Birchwood Power Facility near King George, Virginia. J-POWER acquired a 49.5% stake in the 242-megawatt power plant in May 2008.[9]

GE invests in China IGCC project

On January 18, 2011, GE announced that it would be forming a "clean coal" technology joint venture in China with the Shenhua Group, a state-owned coal mining and energy company. The joint venture company will sell industrial coal gasification technology licenses, conduct research and development and develop facilities around integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC). GE plans to announce over $2 billion in locomotives and other deals in China, as GE’s sales to China are growing at 20 percent a year. Khosla Ventures recently invested in clean coal startup Ciris Energy — which GE also backs.[10]

GE Energy pushes coal gasification and exports to China

In September 2011 Keith White, director of GE Energy’s coal gasification business stated, "We make a majority of our money in China today. They use their coal for quality high-end products." White said that businesses should continue their support of coal-gasification and keep in mind the need to expand to additional markets like plastics and other refined products. He noted that a high volume of coal in China is refined into liquid byproducts "such as naphtha, and other products that are the feedstock of plastics and the Chinese garment industry."[11]


In May 2013 it was reported that GE is investing billions of dollars in the new boom of oil and gas drilling. The company is opening a new laboratory in Oklahoma, where it is reported that they will be "buying up related companies, and placing a big bet that cutting-edge science will improve profits for clients and reduce the environmental and health effects of the boom."[12]


See the related article, General Electric's Ecomagination Campaign.

Ad boycott against Air America Radio

General Electric refused to advertise on the progressive Air America Radio. In October 2006, around 90 companies, including General Electric, told ABC Radio Networks that they did not want their ads to play on any radio station that carried Air America Radio. [13] [14] [15]

Tax Breaks

A 2011 analysis by Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, Corporate Taxpayers & Corporate Tax Dodgers: 2008-10 found dozens of companies used tax breaks and various tax dodging methods to have a negative tax balance between 2008 and 2010, while making billions in profits. In 2008-10 General Electric paid less than no income tax with a rate of –45.3% and a tax subsidy of $8,398. [16]


Board of Directors

As of January 2013[17]

Directors (2008)
As of November 2008:[18]

Directors (2008)
As of 2006:[19]


Corporate Executives

As of January 2013:[20]

  • Ferdinando Beccalli-Falco, President and CEO, GE Europe; CEO, GE Germany
  • Charlene Begley, President & CEO, GE Home & Business Solutions; Senior VP and CIO, GE
  • Kathryn A. Cassidy, Senior VP and Treasurer, GE & GE Capital
  • Beth Comstock, Chief Marketing Officer and Senior VP, GE
  • Matthew G. Cribbins, Vice President, GE Global Audit
  • Pamela Daley, Senior Vice President, GE Corporate Business Development
  • Brackett B. Denniston III, Senior Vice President, Secretary, and General Counsel, GE
  • Alex Dimitrief, Vice President and Senior Counsel, Litigation and Legal Policy, GE
  • Shane Fitzsimons, Chief Financial Officer, Global Growth & Operations, GE
  • Jeffrey R. Immelt, Chairman and CEO
  • Mark M. Little, Senior VP and Director, GE Global Research
  • John F. Lynch, Senior Vice President, GE Corporate Human Resources
  • Puneet Mahajan, Vice President and Chief Risk Officer, GE
  • Jamie S. Miller, Vice President and Controller, GE
  • Michael A. Neal, Chairman and CEO, GE Capital
  • Susan P. Peters, VP of Executive Development; Chief Learning Officer, GE
  • John G. Rice, Vice Chairman, GE; President & CEO, GE Global Growth & Operations
  • John Samuels, Vice President and Senior Counsel, Tax Policy and Planning, GE
  • Trevor A. Schauenberg, Vice President, Corporate Investor Communications
  • Keith S. Sherin, Senior VP and Chief Financial Officer, GE
  • Susan E. Siegel, GE Corporate Vice President; CEO, healthymagination
  • Brian Worrell, Vice President, GE Corporate Financial Planning & Analysis

Business Executives

As of January 2013:[21]

  • Mark W. Begor, President and CEO, Capital Real Estate and Capital Restructuring
  • Charles Blankenship, Jr., President and CEO, GE Appliances
  • Steve Bolze, Senior VP and President & CEO, GE Power & Water
  • Jeffrey S. Bornstein, Senior VP & CFO, GE Capital
  • William H. Cary, SVP and COO, GE Capital
  • John Dineen, President and CEO, GE Healthcare
  • John L. Flannery, President and CEO, GE India
  • Tom Gentile, President and CEO, GE Healthcare Systems
  • Daniel C. Heintzelman, Senior VP and President and CEO, GE Oil & Gas
  • Dan Henson, President and CEO, GE Capital, Americas
  • Jay Ireland, President and CEO, GE Africa
  • Daniel Janki, President and CEO, GE Energy Management
  • David L. Joyce, Senior VP and President & CEO, GE Aviation
  • Richard A. Laxer, President & CEO, GE Capital, EMEA
  • Lorenzo Simonelli, President & CEO, GE Transportation
  • Dmitri Stockton, President & CEO, GE Asset Management

Former executives include:

Key 2011 executives and pay: [22]          Options
Jeffrey R. Immelt, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer    $7,750,000    $0
Keith S. Sherin, Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer    $5,160,000    $0
Michael A. Neil, Vice Chairman and Executive Officer    $5,720,000    $0
John G. Rice, Vice Chairman,Chief Exec. Officer of GE Global Growth & Operations and Pres of GE Global Growth & Operations    $7,400,000    $0
Lynn Calpeter, Chief Financial Officer of GE Power & Water and VP of GE Power & Water    N/A    N/A

Contact details

3135 Easton Turnpike
Fairfield, CT 06828-0001
Phone: 203-373-2211
Fax: 203-373-313

Articles and resources

Featured SourceWatch Articles on Fix the Debt

Related SourceWatch articles

External resources

External articles

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  1. GE Subsidiaries/Affiliates Covered By Hoover's, Hoovers, accessed June 2007
  2. General Electric, "GE Sells Remaining Stake in NBCUniversal Joint Venture and Related Assets to Comcast for $18.1B" , organization press release, February 12, 2013
  3. Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research, project of the Environmental Working Group, Information on American Legislative Exchange Council, archived organizational profile, archived by Wayback Machine December 2, 2000, accessed August 19, 2011
  4. American Legislative Exchange Council, Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee Roster 2, organizational task force membership directory, March 31, 2011, p. 46, obtained and released by Common Cause April 2012
  5. Public Campaign, For Hire: Lobbyists or the 99%? How Corporations Pay More for Lobbyists Than in Taxes, organizational report, December 2011
  6. Murphy Sprinkel, Philip Morris Untitled letter 3 pp. April 30, 1985. Bates No. 2022210503/0505
  7. P.N. Gauvin, Philip Morris Monthly Development Summary - May, 1984 Memorandum. 2 pp. June 1, 1984. Bates No.2022217613/7614
  8. "GE supplier abuses workers, group says" March 28, 2008.
  9. "J-POWER Acquires 49.5 Percent of 242-Megawatt Birchwood Power Plant in King George" Reuters, May 8, 2008.
  10. Iris Kuo, "Two cleantech behemoths team up to tackle clean coal: GE and China" Green Beat, Jan. 18, 2011.
  11. [ "GE: Wyoming coal could be converted to shirts" Dustin Bleizeffer, WyoFile, September 16, 2011.
  12. "GE says it is investing billions to improve fracking" Associated Press, May 28, 2013.
  13. Marc Fisher, "Air America, in the Throes of Victory?", The Washington Post, December 10, 2006.
  14. "Air America on Ad Blacklist?", FAIR, October 31, 2006.
  15. "Air America Blackout", memo, October 25, 2006.
  16. Robert S. McIntyre, Matthew Gardner, Rebecca J. Wilkins, Richard Phillips Corporate Taxpayers & Corporate Tax Dodgers: 2008-10,, November 2011
  17. General Electric, Board of Directors, organizational website, accessed January 2013
  18. Directors, General Electric, accessed November 25, 2008.
  19. General Electric Board of Directors, 2006 Source
  20. General Electric, Corporate Executives, organizational website, accessed January 2013
  21. General Electric, Business Executives, organizational website, accessed January 2013
  22. [1], Yahoo Finance, accessed March 2013.