Bloomberg News

GE’s Immelt to Remain Neutral in Presidential Campaign

March 30, 2012

Jeffrey "Jeff" Immelt, chief executive officer of General Electric Co. (GE), in Houston, Texas. Photographer: Aaron M. Sprecher/Bloomberg

Jeffrey "Jeff" Immelt, chief executive officer of General Electric Co. (GE), in Houston, Texas. Photographer: Aaron M. Sprecher/Bloomberg

General Electric Co. (GE:US) Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt, who is also an outside economic adviser to President Barack Obama, is pushing back on a report that he’s disenchanted with the administration’s economic policies and privately rooting for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney in this year’s election, according to a company official.

“The story is nonsense,” said Andrew Williams, a company spokesman. “Jeff has said many times that the president is a good partner to work with on the jobs council. Jeff has also said that the president is a good listener and has been highly engaged with the council and its work. He still believes that today.”

Williams said Immelt, a Republican, declined to comment.

According to a March 19 Fox Business Network report that ran in the New York Post, Immelt is privately backing Romney and his “displeasure with the president’s economic policies is real and palpable in private settings.”

The story, citing anonymous individuals and containing no quotes from Immelt, says the GE chief is dismayed by Obama’s “fat-cat bashing, left-leaning economic agenda of taxing businesses and entrepreneurs to pay for government bloat.”

Asked about the charges in the article, Williams directed questions back to his statement. Williams wouldn’t say whether Immelt will vote for Obama or who Immelt is supporting, only that “he is not going to endorse anybody in this election.”

No Campaign Contributions

While Immelt has contributed to Democratic and Republican candidates and their parties in the past, so far he hasn’t donated to Obama or Romney in this election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

In 2007, Immelt contributed $2,300 to Romney’s primary campaign, according to the Washington-based research group that tracks campaign giving. He gave the same amount to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, another 2008 Republican primary contender, and Senator John McCain, who went on to become the party’s nominee.

Immelt also gave $2,300 to Obama’s 2008 Democratic primary opponent, former New York senator Hillary Clinton, who is now the U.S. secretary of state.

Obama named Immelt to head his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness last year. Its mission is to offer “non- partisan advice” on how to strengthen the U.S. economy and ensure competitiveness while creating “jobs, opportunity and prosperity for the American people,” according to the executive order that created the panel.

“Our competitiveness has eroded over the past decades,” Immelt wrote in the panel’s 72-page Jan. 17 report prescribing how the U.S. can recover its global economic edge. “We have lost ground in metrics ranging from education to infrastructure to export.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Julianna Goldman in Washington at jgoldman6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net


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