The verdict is pretty much in: Go Woke and you just might go broke — and the examples are endless.

Yet there are powerful leftist forces that continue to push businesses to join their cultural revolution. 

At the top of that hideous list is a federal agency that has a congressional mandate to protect the public shareholder.

It’s called the Securities and Exchange Commission — and during the presidency of Sleepy Joe Biden, it has become another tool in the left’s arsenal as it pursues a culture war on and against the American people. 

The SEC was created following the 1929 stock market crash to protect investors from scams and make markets work efficiently.

Under a former Goldman Sachs banker named Gary Gensler, it has been setting records implementing a woke agenda. 

It’s doing this despite the general public’s — and the investing public’s — deep resistance to corporate progressivism including the mantra of net-zero carbon emissions.

This is policy-making you might expect not from an investor-protection agency but from hardcore NGO lefties, those at the far-left United Nations, and from the office of lefty Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

But Gensler gets his cues from all of the above; he gets away with it because alleged watchdogs in the business media largely approve of his use of the SEC as a social-policy tool. 

Again, lots of crimes in the markets these days, but the Gensler SEC has a particular and peculiar fascination with left-wing dogma, particularly as it involves the climate.

He’s pushing companies to disclose the minutiae of their carbon footprint, a costly disclosure that’s being challenged in the courts because it goes beyond the commission’s congressional mandate, which doesn’t include setting the country’s climate agenda. 

Not to be deterred, Gensler is rushing forward with climate fanaticism in other ways.

One is particularly costly to business, also possibly illegal, involving the so-called corporate proxy process, where shareholders vote on measures that supposedly can enhance the value of their holdings.

It occurs during the spring and early summer so it’s finishing up around now. 

The left for years now has been dumping its progressive proxy ideas on shareholders.

Donald Trump’s SEC chair Jay Clayton tightened the process, making ­political grandstanding difficult.

Gensler and his minions have essentially canceled Clayton’s reforms and opened up the proxy process to any loopy left-wing proposal from political activists posing as shareholders. 

These faux investors can now simply buy a few shares of stock (I am told they also borrow shares) to promote their political cause and, presto, they can put their proposal to a vote because the SEC allows them.

It costs companies and shareholders big bucks as they debate these idiotic whims, such as getting oil companies to stop drilling for oil, which would mean there would be no more oil companies. 

Yes, very stupid.

The reason this might also be illegal, corporate lawyers tell me, is because the agency can’t mandate what gets proposed in the proxy process, just how it’s being proposed, i.e. whether solicitors are lying.

By giving lefty activists the green light on everything, the SEC is basically setting what gets on the proxy statement. 

Don’t drill, baby, drill? 

One company recently called the SEC’s bluff.

ExxonMobil sued a left-wing activist investor named Arjuna that added to the company’s recent proxy statement, with the SEC’s blessing, a proposal to sharply cut back on drilling, plus demands that it “summarize new plants, targets and timetables” to meet its leftist desires. 

To the left, it doesn’t matter that such moves would bankrupt ­Exxon, or cause massive inflation for working people in the form of higher gas prices, or that they don’t really help the environment that much.

The biggest corporate polluters come from overseas, China and India, countries and companies that are thumbing their nose at the left’s environmental edicts. 

They also don’t care that these measures provide no shareholder value, just that they get aired with lots of media attention for its leftist agenda.

In fact, Exxon shareholders rejected Arjuna’s proposals more than once, which is another reason why in a less woke SEC world, none of this would be put to a vote in the first place. 

When Arjuna allied with another activist tried one more time, Exxon sued in federal court to make it all stop.

This past week, a federal judge in Texas tossed the lawsuit after Arjuna, sensing imminent defeat, decided to withdraw its proposal. 

Big victory for shareholders, you might say.

Maybe, but Arjuna didn’t walk away empty-handed.

I am told that getting on the proxy ballot (and getting that media attention) is extremely cheap.

For just about $10,000, it’s essentially SEC-sponsored free advertising. 

Arjuna says it won’t be back to harass Exxon but others will pick up the slack.

Economist Jerry Bowyer, who has been doing yeoman’s work tracking the progressive activist investor ecosystem for years, reports how Israel after Oct. 7 has become a lefty activist target; many such investors use the proxy process to try getting corporations to divest from the country because they see its right to exist, as with its war on Hamas, as an imperialist pursuit. 

And you can thank Gary Gensler for that one as well. 

Charles Gasparino is the author of the forthcoming book “Go Woke, Go Broke: The Inside Story on the Radicalization of Corporate America.” 

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