Ethan Peck approached Pfizer on behalf of his employer, the Free Enterprise Project (FEP) at the National Center for Public Policy Research. Part of FEP's work is confronting executives and board members about their business practices; in this particular instance, it was during a virtual meeting.
"FEP's shareholder proposal with Pfizer was requesting that Pfizer disclose to shareholders the full extent of its spending and contributions because they hadn't been doing that," Peck explains. "For example, Pfizer is a platinum-level sponsor of the Human Rights Campaign – and while the Human Rights Campaign says this openly, Pfizer doesn't."
The same thing occurred when Peck inquired about Pfizer's involvement with the World Economic Forum.
"Pfizer is a strategic partner – which is also a higher level of sponsorship – and these [partnerships] costs money," Peck tells AFN. "So, they're using shareholder money, giving this money to these organizations [and] funding them … and they're not disclosing it to shareholders."
Peck left the shareholder meeting with questions unanswered. "Their rebuttal was kind of weak," he shares. "They said We already disclose all of our political expenditures – and that's just an outright lie."
After the meeting, Peck accused the Pfizer board of being "malicious" in its handling of contributions and expenditures:
"It knows that the company's political contributions deepen corporate ties with the administrative state in a way that squashes the individual – and that’s exactly why it does what it can to conceal such spending from shareholders. It [also] knows that sponsoring organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign and the World Economic Forum is controversial – for obvious reasons …."
AFN emailed Pfizer for comment but did not receive a response.