As more major companies leave the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a secretive corporate lobbying group, it’s a wonder why Pfizer remains a member. Over 80 public interest, religious, environmental, labor, public health, civil rights and investor organizations have sent a letter to Pfizer asking them to ALEC.
Here are five reasons why Pfizer should cut ties with ALEC:
1. Pfizer and ALEC’s Views on Climate Science Don’t Match Up
Pfizer states on its website that “climate change is a global environmental and public health issue that requires more action on the part of industry, the government and the public.” Pfizer has linked the impacts of climate change to increasing rates of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, diarrheal disease, malaria, dengue and others. Yet, ALEC lobbies on behalf of major oil and coal companies, pushes legislation that denies the science of climate change and blocks renewable energy, and holds trainings for legislators to promote the denial of climate science.
2. They Don’t See Eye to Eye on Health Care Either
Pfizer has been supportive of the Affordable Care Act and improving Americans’ access to healthcare. Forbes magazine even recently reported that the Affordable Care Act could increase profits for the drug industry by an astounding $35 billion. Yet, ALEC has been key in attempting to overturn the Affordable Care Act and stopping Medicaid expansion.
3. ALEC Lobbies for the Tobacco Industry
Pfizer has also been a leader in helping Americans stop smoking, yet Pfizer continues to fund ALEC, which is sponsored and supported by tobacco companies Reynolds American and Altria. ALEC lobbies for the tobacco industry on a wide range of issues, including opposing plain packaging laws, FDA regulation of tobacco and state smoking bans.
4. Pfizer Could Face Back Taxes for Its Support of ALEC
When we blew the whistle on ALEC’s abuse of tax loopholes to let its corporate members write off lobbying expenses as charitable gifts, we specifically asked the IRS to “disallow the tax deductions taken by ALEC’s for-profit corporate members, and collect taxes due from such [private sector] members.”
5. Shareholders Are Questioning Pfizer’s ALEC Membership
Pfizer has not yet heeded requests, including a shareholder proposal at the company’s 2014 annual meeting and a pending proposal for 2015, to reevaluate their membership in ALEC, despite the fact that ALEC’s agenda is severely out of step with Pfizer’s corporate culture and may bring significant reputational and business risk to the company.
6. Many of Pfizer’s Competitors Have Already Dumped ALEC
Among Pfizer’s pharmaceutical peers, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and Sanofi have all announced they have left or were leaving ALEC in recent years.