Political lobbying spending proposal withdrawn at US pharma firm Amgen

Fund firm Trillium hails company’s commitment to transparency

A planned shareholder resolution calling for transparency on political lobbying expenditure at US biopharmaceutical group Amgen has been withdrawn by sustainable funds firm Trillium Asset Management.
It follows a commitment by the Nasdaq-listed, California-based company that will lead to greater transparency in its reporting of lobbying spending, Trillium said.
Trillium had filed the resolution on behalf of clients, including Social Justice Fund Northwest, the foundation that works for social justice in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
Trillium had argued that Amgen spent around $19.3m in 2011 and 2012 on direct federal lobbying activities, not including its use of at least 208 lobbyists in 37 states between 2003 and 2012.
It pointed to a January 2013 New York Times story as illustrating the “reputational risk and scrutiny” lobbying presents. The NY Times had reported that Amgen aggressively lobbied for a provision that evaded Medicare cost-cutting controls, at a cost to Medicare of up to $500m.
From next year, Amgen will annually disclose its membership in trade associations along with the amounts the trade associations spend from its fees for non-deductible lobbying activities, Trillium said.Amgen has also committed to publish an annual list of all states where it files lobbying reports – and provide relevant links.
“These significant and meaningful steps by Amgen are sound risk management and we commend the company for taking a leadership position in the pharmaceutical industry — and in corporate America more generally, Trillium said.
Trillium has previously engaged with Amgen over gender identity. Amgen is likely to hold its annual shareholder meeting in May 2014.

Last week Trillium was among a coalition of investors urging companies sponsoring the 2014 Winter Olympics to speak out against Russian laws affecting the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

Earlier, RI reported that Trillium is lining up its shareholder proposals for the 2014 voting season. It will target methane emissions reporting at EOG Resources and Spectra Energy as well as greenhouse gas emissions at Lowe’s Companies, Church & Dwight and Valmont Industries. There will be motions on political contributions at Motorola Solutions and Hess Corp.