RESOLVED, the stockholders of Abbott request the preparation of a report, updated annually, disclosing:
-Company policy and procedures governing lobbying, both direct and indirect, and grassroots lobbying communications.
-Payments by Abbott used for (a) direct or indirect lobbying or (b) grassroots lobbying communications, in each case including the amount of the payment and the recipient.
-Abbott’s membership in and payments to any tax-exempt organization that writes and endorses model legislation.Description of management’s decision-making process and the Board’s oversight for making payments described in sections 2 and 3 above.
For purposes of this proposal, a “grassroots lobbying communication” is a communication directed to the general public that (a) refers to specific legislation or regulation, (b) reflects a view on the legislation or regulation and (c) encourages the recipient of the communication to take action with respect to the legislation or regulation. “Indirect lobbying” is lobbying engaged in by a trade association or other organization of which Abbott is a member.
Both “direct and indirect lobbying” and “grassroots lobbying communications” include efforts at the local, state and federal levels.
The report shall be presented to the Public Policy Committee and posted on Abbott’s website.
We believe in full disclosure of Abbott’s lobbying activities and expenditures to assess whether Abbott’s lobbying is consistent with its expressed goals and stockholder interests.
Abbott spent $46,140,000 from 2010 – 2021 on federal lobbying. This figure does not include state lobbying, where Abbott lobbied in at least 19 states in 2020 and spent $1,116,882 on lobbying in California from 2010 – 2021.
Abbott fails to disclose its payments to trade associations and social welfare organizations, or the amounts used for lobbying, to stockholders. Companies can give unlimited amounts to third party groups that spend millions on lobbying and undisclosed grassroots activity. These groups may be spending “at least double what’s publicly reported.” Abbott belongs to the Business Roundtable, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and Chamber Commerce, which together spent $110,830,000 on lobbying for 2021. Abbott also supports social welfare groups like the Alliance for Aging Research, which lobbies and ran Facebook ads opposing drug pricing legislation, and Caregivers Voice United, which backed a secret letter campaign in Oregon.
We are concerned Abbott’s lack of disclosure presents reputational risk when its lobbying contradicts company public positions. For example, Abbott and its trade association Infant Nutrition Council of America have attracted scrutiny for lobbying to weaken bacteria safety testing for baby formula. Abbott believes in addressing climate change, yet the Business Roundtable lobbied against the Inflation Reduction Act and the Chamber opposed the Paris climate accord. And while Abbott does not belong to the controversial American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), it is represented by its trade associations, as the Chamber and NAM each sit on its Private Enterprise Advisory Council.
We urge Abbott to expand its lobbying disclosure.