22 Apr 2021 Pfizer CEO Retreats from Opposition to Georgia Voting Law, Claims Neutrality
Washington, D.C. – Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla claimed today that Pfizer is staying neutral regarding Georgia’s new election integrity law. This assertion, made in response to a question from the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project (FEP), contradicted earlier reports that the company opposed the law.
At Pfizer’s annual virtual shareholder meeting, FEP Associate Davis Soderberg submitted this question:
Pfizer has joined the rush to condemn Georgia’s voter-integrity law, a law designed to stop election fraud, as by requiring voters to provide ID. Could you explain in detail how requiring voters to show ID when they vote undermines any voting access or voting rights, and which other specific provisions of the bill you object to and why?
Bourla responded, in part:
[O]ne of Pfizer’s values is equity…. [E]nsuring every American citizen’s right to vote… is fundamental to our democracy. I firmly believe that all eligible voters should be afforded equal access and opportunity to cast their ballots. I urge policymakers to remain true to this principle and to work to ensure the right to vote is never compromised. And, of course, also I want to take the opportunity to encourage our colleagues to be informed, to speak out against policies that would hinder free and fair elections and to fully participate in the electoral process.
We are not taking a position on specifics, on specific laws, but we are clearly stating our basic principle that access to vote is very important for the democracy and it’s very important for us as a company that operates in the health care sector.
Soderberg’s question, and Bourla’s full response, can be heard here.
“Pfizer is the next addition to the list of companies that have refused to thoroughly answer our question about why they believe the Georgia voter integrity law is racist or otherwise wrong. They simply refuse to give specifics,” said Soderberg after the meeting. “Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, like many other business executives who can’t effectively defend their claims, calls for ‘equity’ and an effort to ensure ‘every American citizen’s right to vote’ without pinpointing how this legislation undermines those notions. Bourla went so far as to say: ‘We are not taking a position… on specific laws.’ It’s blatantly clear why they aren’t taking a stance on specific laws they deem racist, because their accusations are baseless and there is no provision in the bill that could satisfy their race-based claims. Corporate leaders continue to point to racism where there is none.”
“We’re delighted to see that Pfizer appears to have backed off earlier reported opposition to the Georgia voting integrity law,” said FEP Deputy Director Scott Shepard, who also attended today’s meeting. “Requiring proof that votes are legitimately cast by actual voters is absolutely vital to the survival of our Republic. Allowing fraudulent ballots is just as corrosive to the rights of legitimate voters as are any other bars to free and honest voting. Nothing in the Georgia law, or in other protections being discussed across the country, is in any way objectionable. It’s good to see that Pfizer now agrees.
“At shareholder meeting after shareholder meeting this week, we have seen that companies that had rushed to condemn Georgia’s law are now retreating or petulantly repeating generalized talking points without being able to identify any single provision that triggers their objections,” Shepard continued. “This has been a vital demonstration of the dangers, risks and errors of ‘woke’ capitalism. Calling a state’s voting laws illegitimate, and even racist, is a really big deal. It is not a move that competently run companies would rush into given the risks of embarrassment, of alienating key stakeholders and of demonstrating their incompetence beyond a narrow focus on the businesses they run.
“If Pfizer has been misidentified as having opposed the Georgia voter law, it should say so plainly,” concluded Shepard. “If it was properly identified, and now has backed off, it still owes the people of Georgia an apology for the ways it has libeled them. And if the company is trying to stake out the untenable position that no provision of the bill is objectionable, but that the bill itself is still somehow wrong, then it should be ashamed of itself and shareholders should be disgusted with Pfizer’s executive management. Regardless, the company should rethink its commitment to knee-jerk reactions to profound civic issues.”
Conservative investors can learn how to oppose leftism in corporate America by downloading FEP’s new 2021 Investor Value Voter Guide. The new website Stop Corporate Tyranny also provides tools for engagement with corporate leaders.
Today’s meeting marks the 9th time FEP has participated in a shareholder meeting in 2021. To schedule an interview with a member of the Free Enterprise Project on this or other issues, contact Judy Kent at (703) 477-7476.
Launched in 2007, the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project focuses on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. Over the past four years alone, FEP representatives have participated in over 100 shareholder meetings – advancing free-market ideals about health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and other important public policy issues. As the leading voice for conservative-minded investors, it annually files more than 90 percent of all right-of-center shareholder resolutions. Dozens of liberal organizations, however, annually file more than 95 percent of all policy-oriented shareholder resolutions and continue to exert undue influence over corporate America.
FEP activity has been covered by media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Variety, the Associated Press, Bloomberg, Drudge Report, Business Insider, National Public Radio and SiriusXM. FEP’s work is prominently featured in Stephen Soukup’s new book The Dictatorship of Woke Capital: How Political Correctness Captured Big Business (Encounter Books) and Kimberley Strassel’s 2016 book The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech (Hachette Book Group).
The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 60,000 active recent contributors.
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