Consol Energy’s gift of coal for the holidays…

December 8, 2008

Sure, it’s the holiday season, but judging by this 8K that Consol Energy (CNX) filed on Friday afternoon, there’s going to be some disappointed people in Washington D.C. this holiday season. And the fact that it’s a coal company doing this seems ironic indeed.

That’s because in one of the odder 8Ks we’ve seen here at footnoted, Consol has decided to adopt the Honest Leadership Act (HLOGA) passed last year by altering its code of ethics. In addition to the timing, which seems odd given that the legislation was passed in September 2007, Consol also seems to be the only public company addressing this since a search of filings for other mentions of HLOGA came up blank. And, given that it’s a federal law, you’d expect to see it mentioned at least in passing in a filing or two. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Consol is pretty active when it comes to lobbying, which might make this sort of thing a material change worth disclosing. But quite frankly, that’s just a guess, since the whole thing just seems a bit odd.

Consol’s new policy has sections on gifts, favors and entertainment and requires stringent record-keeping, which again seems to be something that other companies would have in place. And here’s a section on what to do about big-ticket gifts:

“In certain situations, refusal of personal gifts, favors, or entertainment (because, for example, they have a value substantially in excess of customary business practices) can result in awkward business situations. The propriety of employees accepting such favors or entertainment or keeping such valuable gifts for personal use versus turning them over to the Company, donating them to a charity or other disposition should be discussed in each case with the employee’s management and documented.

Of course, given the AP’s story over the weekend about lawmakers and former lawmakers feasting at Freddie Mac’s trough, maybe having a policy that states the obvious isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

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