It’s Gold Star Friday!

March 16, 2012

It has been a very long time since we’ve had “Gold Star Friday” – a day when we shine a spotlight on a company that’s doing something that deserves public recognition. Our team reads hundreds of filings every week (sometimes every day!), and – trust us on this one – really good deeds aren’t nearly as common as examples of dense chunks of obtuse text carefully crafted by attorneys who don’t share our passion for corporate transparency. Yet we’re always on the lookout for the good as well as the bad, and we’re happy to share an example of gold star behavior with you today.

We’re giving a collective hat tip this morning to Boston Scientific Corporation (BSX), which disclosed in its March 8 preliminary proxy that while CEO William Kucheman has the right – per his employment agreement – to take up to $100,000 worth of personal flights on the company jet each year:

For 2011, Mr. Kucheman elected to forgo his personal use of our aircraft and instead, at Mr. Kucheman’s recommendation, the Company elected to provide Veterans Airlift Command, a non-profit organization, with the ability to use our aircraft up to Mr. Kucheman’s annual cap to provide free air transportation to wounded veterans and their families for medical and other compassionate purposes.”

Based in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, Veterans Airlift Command doesn’t have a Charity Navigator rating yet, but it does have former Sen. Bob Dole and General Richard B. Myers – both heavyweights on veterans’ issues – on its advisory board. This is the first year that Boston Scientific has disclosed this donation to the non-profit, and so far it’s the only company to mention the organization in its SEC filings.

It’s clear that most of the credit should go to CEO Kucheman for the idea; for indeed, a couple of other executives did rack up personal flying time on the company jet. (Former President and CEO, J. Raymond Elliott, got $153,444 worth of personal flights in 2011, while former Executive VP and Chief Operations Officer, Samuel R. Leno, got $14,010 worth of personal flights.) Nevertheless, Boston Scientific’s directors had to approve the idea for it to happen, and we think they deserve a share of the credit for that decision.

Some might wonder why we’re applauding this expenditure, since Boston Scientific’s investors are paying for the $100,000 worth of flights, not Kucheman personally. While we certainly get that, we still think that Kucheman’s idea to take a perk he was “entitled” to and use it to help others is worth highlighting. SEC filings are replete with examples of executives taking every last perk they can get. But to take a rather sizable perk and use it to help others is – sadly – quite rare.

What’s more, it seems that the company made this donation quietly. A search of Boston Scientific’s website reveals that it only mentions this matter in its preliminary proxy, not with a splashy press release or even in its list of good deeds and causes in the Corporate Social Responsibility section of the site.

We hope that other executives and directors will find Kucheman’s generous act as inspiring as we do and think of ways they can help others in need, whether they be wounded veterans or others whose causes they believe in. And to Kucheman and Boston Scientific’s directors, enjoy the gold star. You’ve earned it!

Image source: Gold star isolated on white, via Shutterstock

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Over at footnotedPro, we comb through SEC filings to find what other investors miss. Last year, we called four M&A targets weeks or months ahead of an announcement. For more information about subscribing to footnotedPro, or to inquire about our 2012 M&A report, contact us.

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