Trump disbands advisory board after another CEO from NJ quits
CAMDEN — After the CEO of Campbell's Soup quit President Trump's manufacturing jobs initiative a day after saying she would remain, Trump disbanded the entire panel.
Denise Morrison said Trump's comments on Tuesday blaming "many sides" for the deadly Charlottesville, Virginia, demonstrations made her reconsider her commitment to the initiative.
Shortly after Morrison's announcement, Trump tweeted that the panel was disbanded.
"Rather than putting pressure on the business people of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all," Trump tweeted after Denise Morrison announced her resignation.
"Racism and murder are unequivocally reprehensible and are not morally equivalent to anything else that happened in Charlottesville," Morrison said in a statement Wednesday. "I believe the President should have been – and still needs to be – unambiguous on that point. Following yesterday’s remarks from the President, I cannot remain on the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative. I will continue to support all efforts to spur economic growth and advocate for the values that have always made America great."
3M CEO Inge Thulin announced in a statement on Wednesday his resignation from the panel, saying sustainability, diversity and inclusion are his personal values and are also fundamental to 3M's vision.
Alex Gorsky, the head of New Brunswick-based Johnson & Johnson said in a statement that he too was planning to step down following the president's Tuesday comments had Trump not disbanded the panel.
"Johnson & Johnson has a responsibility to remain engaged as important policy decisions are made. That hasn't changed. The President’s most recent statements equating those who are motivated by race-based hate with those who stand up against hatred is unacceptable and has changed our decision to participate in the White House Manufacturing Advisory Council. We will continue to support, advocate and champion policies and programs that make this country and the world healthier, stronger and more united," the chairman and CEO said in a statement.
Gorsky said earlier that J&J has an important voice that needs to be heard and he would remain.
"If we aren’t in the room advocating for global health as a top priority, if we aren’t there standing up for our belief in diversity and inclusion, or if we fail to speak out when the situation demands it, then we have abdicated our Credo responsibility. We must engage if we hope to change the world and those who lead it," Gorsky's statement read.
The credo states in part, "We are responsible to the communities in which we live and work and to the world community as well."
Morrison echoed a similar sentiment an earlier statement that she will also remain.
"We believe it continues to be important for Campbell to have a voice and provide input on matters that will affect our industry, our company and our employees in support of growth," the company said in its statement.
The other member from New Jersey, Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, left the panel. He was the only black executive on the board. He wrote on Twitter Monday that "America's leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which runs counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal."
Gorsky said that he respects the decision of others to leave the initiative. "I respect their decision as a matter of personal conscience. Given the events of the past few days, I can understand the concerns—even the fear—that some people have expressed. These are difficult days for everyone."
The stated purpose of the initiative is to "share their experiences and gain their insights" on a regular basis.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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