By Ryan Velez
The recent events in Charlottesville and President Donald Trump’s response has triggered a wave of criticism, which is likely the last thing he would like to see as he reaches some of the highest disapproval levels of his presidency to date. In addition to public disappointment, Black Enterprise reports that Merck CEO Kenneth C. Frazier, Black Enterprise’s 2014 Corporate Executive of the Year, has given up his seat on Trump’s American Manufacturing Council over the President’s actions.
The news broke via a statement from Merck’s official Twitter account. Frazier wrote, “I am resigning from the President’s American Manufacturing Council.”
“Our country’s strength stems from its diversity and the contributions made by men and women of different faiths, races, sexual orientations and political beliefs,” the statement continued.
“As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.” In a shock to few, the President was quick to condemn Frazier’s stance in a retaliatory tweet.
“Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President’s Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!,” the president tweeted.
This is not the first time Frazier has come under fire, though. After beginning his career at Merck as a general counsel, he became well known for his grace under pressure, guiding the company through thousands of lawsuits regarding alleged harmful effects of a painkiller. He became CEO in 2011, and Black Enterprise reported that the stock price has appreciated by 86% under his management in 2014. After he chose to leave the Council, news outlets reported a small jump in Merck stock.
In addition to his corporate work, Frazier and his wife Andrea are part of the founding board of Cornerstone Christian Academy, a school serving one of the poorest areas of Philadelphia. “Our goal as a school is to provide a first-rate education in the context of Christian upbringing so that the children can gain not only the academic skills they’re going to need to compete in the world, but also a sense of who they truly are and of their responsibilities to their fellow humans. I think they could be future leaders of Merck. They could be future leaders of this country,” Frazier says.
Frazier is not the only high profile person in business to leave an advisory position for Trump. Elon Musk made headlines when he chose to leave the position. Along with Frazier, the CEOs of Intel and UnderArmour have also left advisory councils over the last day or two, specifically naming Trump’s actions after Charlottesville as their reason for doing so.