In its proxy statement, Cracker Barrel claims to have strict procedures and standards and to have engaged in "significant efforts" to identify qualified candidates for director. Echoing its Corporate Governance Guidelines, Cracker Barrel states in its proxy statement:
"The Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee assesses a candidate's independence, background and experience.... The Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee recommends appropriate candidates with the goal that the Board of Directors be comprised of qualified individuals.... Individual directors and any person nominated to serve as a director should possess the highest moral integrity and should generally have had significant managerial experience in the form of being a current or former senior executive of a publicly traded or privately held company or similar business experience or training."
We certainly understand why the Board, in the midst of a proxy contest, would be interested in highlighting an accomplishment of a director, especially an incoming Chairman, who would have led a NYSE-listed company in the capacity of CEO. Initially we had no reason to doubt the Board or Mr. Bradford. We assumed that the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee would have conducted a thorough background check on the incoming Chairman. It is certainly the obligation of the full Board, including that of Ms. Cochran, to be fully versed about Mr. Bradford's professional accomplishments. Assuming Mr. Bradford was required to complete Cracker Barrel's 22-page, 33-question director-and-officer questionnaire that Phil Cooley and I were required to submit in connection with our nomination to the Board, we believe that, at the very least, his responses to questions 3 and 33 should have shed light on his experience at the public company. ( Enclosed with this letter is Cracker Barrel's questionnaire, which is especially voluminous.)
Should our concerns about the accuracy of Mr. Bradford's experience prove correct, then shareholders should seriously question the level of diligence and oversight exercised by Cracker Barrel's Board of Directors in the vitally important vetting process for identifying qualified directors, including the one director possessing the essential character and experience to serve as Chairman of the Board.