November 21, 2017

CEO Resignations From Trump Business Councils Reveal Leaders’ “True Colors”

Press Release from the National Center for Public Policy Research:

Liberal Grandstanding and Cronyism Seen as Undermining Efforts to Grow Economy, Create Jobs

Washington, DC – Recent CEO resignations from the Trump Administration’s business councils are being criticized by the nation’s leading conservative shareholder activists as being short-sighted and political.  The Free Enterprise Project  (FEP) says the resignations, which prompted the disbanding of the councils, highlight the political agendas that now guide corporate behavior and expose companies to increased pressure from radical activists.

FEP is a program of The National Center for Public Policy Research.  It has participated in over 100 corporate shareholder meetings since 2014.

“By fleeing President Trump’s advisory councils, these CEOs showed their true colors. CEOs such as Merck’s Kenneth Frazier, Intel’s Brian Krzanich and Disney’s Bob Iger – who left the advisory council in June – are well-known liberals and likely opposed to much of President Trump’s free enterprise agenda.  The events in Charlottesville are likely just a convenient excuse for them to leave, and they are making political statements rather than business decisions in doing so,” said National Center General Counsel and FEP Director Justin Danhof, Esq.  “Under eight years of President Obama’s policy of picking winners and losers and running the government as a crony statist regime, these corporate leaders became accustomed to working with Washington to set the rules to benefit their respective bottom lines and crowd out competition.  It’s not a coincidence that all of these companies have seen their stock prices drop since January.”

Danhof cited Merck’s Frazier in particular: “Under Frazier’s leadership, Merck has pushed and promoted ObamaCare to benefit its own bottom line even as the law’s market-distorting mechanisms cripple millions of Americans.  One of President Trump’s top priorities is to repeal and replace ObamaCare with a more patient-centric approach to health care.  It seems Frazier prefers the ObamaCare model that provides handouts to industry.  The American people deserve better, President Trump knows that and that had to be a point of contention between them.”

Horace Cooper, a member of the National Center’s board of directors who has represented FEP at shareholder meetings, called out CEOs for the obvious political nature of their resignations.  He said: “The decision by Kenneth Frazier and the others to resign from the White House’s American Manufacturing Council represents the triumph of politics over policy.  It is very disappointing when our nation’s corporate leaders have been given an opportunity to work with the federal government to encourage innovation and investment but instead appear more interested in political correctness.”

Cooper added: “These corporate executives represent the livelihoods of millions of Americans.  Their selfish decision to effectively become Antifa warriors means that the important issues of deregulation and tax reform – critical to job growth and improving household budgets – will be pushed to the back of the bus.  CEOs are hired to improve and expand their companies’ value and to provide needed services and products to consumers. Federal policy is critical to that effort. Abandoning this rare opportunity to work directly with the White House in order to pursue left-wing politics harms not only the corporations, but also the Americans – black, white and brown – who work for them and rely upon their products and services.”

Commenting on the intentions of the White House’s councils, Danhof noted: “President Trump deserves credit for trying to put together a group of business leaders that included CEOs from across the political spectrum. Whether in politics, academia or business, many liberal leaders are completely unwilling to listen to opposing points of view.  In the end, Trump’s efforts at bipartisan outreach were met with liberal grandstanding and defections that undermined the advisory councils’ goals.  He was left with no choice but to disband them.”

Danhof further pointed out: “Another element at play here is the power of corporate activism.  Liberal investment organizations have long recognized the power of shareholder engagement and the ability to influence corporate decision-makers.  From the get-go, all the CEOs appointed to President Trump’s advisory councils faced heavy pressure from leftist agitators to resign.  The CEOs who caved to this pressure – whether they used the events in Charlottesville or President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord as their excuse – may think they are appeasing the liberal mob.  They are not.  Because they have shown a willingness to do the left’s bidding, the activists will return asking for even a greater pound of flesh.”

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