On Tuesday, National Legal and Policy Center presented a resolution at Merck & Co., Inc.’s annual shareholder meeting that would require greater transparency and itemization by the corporation about its lobbying expenditures.
The company’s board of directors opposed our proposal, as explained on pages 89-90 of its proxy statement.
I’m Paul Chesser, director of the Corporate Integrity Project for National Legal and Policy Center.
Merck claims it is transparent about its lobbying activities and expenditures, by pointing out that it discloses some information here, some information there, some information on government websites, some information buried in PDF documents, etc.
The company also tells anyone who might be curious, to just go look on the House or Senate websites for its federal lobbying disclosure reports.
These reports come nowhere close to what our proposal seeks.
Merck – like every other company I’ve dealt with this proxy season – does not want to make an easy, straightforward and coherent way for you to find out the specifics of its lobbying activities.
However, having reviewed a couple of Merck’s recent federal lobbying reports, it’s clear that one of its top priorities are so-called “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” initiatives.
I don’t doubt the sincerity of the intentions of these efforts.
But I would disagree with much of the purported solutions, because we have had program after program after program for decades, and trillions of dollars spent in pursuit of so-called “equity” – both in the public and private sectors – and still fall short.
There is much I would like to address about what Merck Chairman and former CEO Kenneth Frazier (pictured above) said to the media, following the death of George Floyd in 2020.
But I only have time for one point.
One thing Mr. Frazier said was, “Joblessness leads to hopelessness. Hopelessness leads to what we see in the streets.”
I would argue partly that what we still see in the streets is the result of the perpetuity of poverty, unemployment and lack of opportunity due to unending programs for giveaways of every basic need or want for a human being to have.
It is these types of programs that seem to be much of what Merck funds and promotes.
Under such circumstances, what is the incentive to achieve and earn?
Having looked at Merck’s Company Foundation, I see the same glaring omission that I see in every other major corporation’s foundation – nearly all of which have major “diversity, equity and inclusion” efforts.
What is that omission?
A few statistics:
- Fatherless families are 44 percent more likely to raise children living in poverty
- 71 percent of all adolescent substance abusers come from fatherless homes
- 80 percent of adolescents in psychiatric hospitals come from fatherless homes
- 70 percent of teen pregnancies happen in fatherless homes
- Fatherless children are more likely to score lower than the norm in reading and math, and are nine times more likely to drop out of school
And I don’t have time to go into the crime statistics.
Bottom line to Merck and other corporations who truly want progress for the racial inequity problem?
Lobby and donate to promote fatherhood, not to incentivize endless cycles of poverty and hopelessness.
Please vote for Proposal number 6.
You can view NLPC’s shareholder resolution for Merck & Co., Inc.’s annual meeting here.
You can listen to Chesser’s delivered remarks in support of the resolution here.