28 Apr 2011 Johnson & Johnson CEO William C. Weldon Responds to National Center Questions About Firm’s Pro-ObamaCare and Cap-and-Trade Lobbying
Washington, D.C. – Today, at Johnson & Johnson’s annual shareholder meeting in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the National Center For Public Policy Research hammered CEO William C. Weldon over his company’s partisan lobbying. National Center General Counsel Justin Danhof asked Weldon to justify his firm spending shareholder money to support unpopular policies such as ObamaCare and cap-and-trade.
An audio recording of Danhof’s exchange with Weldon can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2iyHu4TXjY.
Weldon said that he was proud of his company’s lobbying positions even if they were not perfect, and he would not change his position even in the face of stark evidence that, as a result, many Johnson & Johnson consumers now view the pharmaceutical giant unfavorably.
Johnson & Johnson is a member of the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) lobby. Through its contributions to PhRMA, Johnson & Johnson directly supported the passage of ObamaCare.
“Johnson & Johnson shareholders and consumers deserve to know just how much company money Weldon used to help pass President Obama’s health care takeover. PhRMA authorized its lobby to spend $150 million to advertise and support ObamaCare, and today, Weldon claimed he was unable to say how much of that was Johnson & Johnson money, even though he promised to do so over a year ago,” said Danhof.
Johnson & Johnson is also a member of the U.S Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), which aggressively lobbies for costly cap-and-trade programs for carbon emissions.
At the 2010 Johnson & Johnson shareholder meeting, under questioning from National Center Free Enterprise Project Director Dr. Tom Borelli, Weldon confidently stated that his company would suffer no reputational damage for supporting Obama’s liberal policy agenda. However, in October 2010, the National Center, together with FreedomWorks, commissioned a poll that shows Johnson & Johnson’s favorability rating among conservatives and tea party activists plummeted once the participants were informed of the company’s lobbying priorities. Even more important to shareholders, consumers said this drop in favorability would affect buying decisions. Danhof presented the poll to the Johnson & Johnson board of directors at this morning’s meeting.
Some key findings of the poll include:
• Sixty percent of conservative voters said they are less likely to buy products from companies that have lobbied in favor of Obama’s legislative agenda.
• Sixty percent of conservatives active in the tea party had a favorable opinion of Johnson & Johnson, but this number plunged to 8 percent after they were informed of Johnson & Johnson’s support of Obama’s policies.
The survey was conducted by Wilson Research Strategies and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent. It can be viewed at: http://www.nationalcenter.org/teapartysurvey.pdf.
“Someone with Weldon’s business acumen should know that backing an extremely partisan agenda might create a backlash. By overseeing Johnson & Johnson’s lobbying, Weldon has damaged his company’s reputation, and that may affect the company’s bottom line,” said Danhof. “When I presented Weldon with the poll results and asked if he would finally admit that supporting President Obama’s policies harmed Johnson & Johnson’s reputation, he stood firm on his liberal agenda. Weldon is not concerned about the many Johnson & Johnson consumers and shareholders that disagree with his company’s progressive lobbying for ObamaCare and cap-and-trade. It is shocking that a businessman would knowingly and willingly alienate such a large share of the marketplace,” said Danhof.
“Programs like ObamaCare and cap-and-trade increase the size and scope of the federal government and decrease freedom and essential liberties. Multiple federal judges have declared ObamaCare unconstitutional, and if it is imposed, it will lead to decreased health care for many Americans. President Obama’s plans for cap-and-trade would increase consumer costs and destroy American jobs,” said Danhof. “Consumers and shareholders should hold Johnson & Johnson accountable for promoting this dangerous agenda.”
The National Center For Public Policy Research owns Johnson & Johnson stock.
The National Center For Public Policy Research is a conservative, free-market non-profit think-tank established in 1982. It is supported by the voluntary gifts of over 100,000 individual recent supporters, and receives less than one percent of its revenue from corporate sources.