Merck CEO Dumps Trump
CEO Frazier leaves manufacturing council over POTUS failure on racism
By Michael King,
1:45PM, Mon. Aug. 14, 2017
In yet another fallout of the white racist actions in Charlottesville, Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier resigned today from President Trump's American Manufacturing Council, citing a corporate and personal responsibility to speak against racism. Trump quickly responded with an angry Tweet against "RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!"
The news has an Austin connection, in that Merck & Co. recently announced it will create an IT hub in Austin, in partnership with the Dell Medical School and potentially located on the recently vacated site of University Medical Center-Brackenridge (replaced by Dell Seton Medical Center). Merck received economic incentives from the city of Austin and the Texas Enterprise Fund to encourage and support the move.
In a statement of resignation from the Council posted to Twitter, Frazier – one of few African-American CEOs among Fortune 500 companies – did not mention Trump directly, but wrote: "America's leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry, and group supremacy."
He continued, "As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism."
Trump, who hadn't yet denounced the explicitly racist nature of the Charlottesville demonstrations and violence (only criticizing violence "on many sides"), initially responded to Frazier's statement only by angrily tweeting that Frazier would now "have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!" Pressured by public response and his advisors, he eventually issued a statement saying, "Racism is evil," and denouncing the "white supremacist … criminals and thugs" who initiated the Charlottesville violence.
Frazier and Merck will likely be applauded in Austin for the CEO's response. The company had taken some heat for requesting an incentive package, with the state's $6 million TEF contribution contingent upon City Council's approval of a 10-year, $856,000 performance-based incentive, dependent upon the creation of 600 high-wage jobs by 2026.