By Jakob Nielsen, Washington
Novo Nordisk viewed Republican presidential hopeful New Gingrich as a lobbyist in Washington, according to the Danish company’s 2009 annual report in which Novo’s membership of Gingrich’s Center for Health Transformation is listed as “costs for lobbyism”.
Gingrich has come under attack as he insists that he has never worked as a lobbyist, but has only offered strategic consultancy.
The issue is a controversial one because Gingrich portrays himself as a politician who is not involved with what he calls ‘the Washingon elite’.
Gingrich’s claim that he has not been a lobbyist is in sharp contrast to Novo’s annual report from 2009 in which the following “Costs for lobbyism” are listed.
“The total lobby expenditure for 2009 was USD 1,725,000. The number includes staff time in-house lobbying (staff time, expenses), fees for lobbying firms and law firms, membership fees to e.g. industry organisations”.
DOCUMENTATIONNovo Nordisk Annual Report 2009
A link leads directly to the organisations that Novo pays to be a member of, among which is the Center for Health Transformation, which Gingrich founded in 2003 and ran until he became candidate for the presidency.
Novo has told Politiken that the company paid DK 1.1 million in annual subscriptions to be a member of Gingrich’s company.
Politiken has asked the Novo Nordisk spokesman in the United States whether his company viewed Newt Gingrich as a lobbyist, but the company has not answered.
In an annual report from 2005, Novo Nordisk explains how it sees lobbyism:
“Novo Nordisk considers lobbying to be a business-critical activity. Given the declining public trust in standards of corporate conduct, it is important to counter the examples of those who abuse the system. The company therefore supports the trend towards greater accountability and transparency in lobbying, which is necessary to maintain and build trust, and the company will play its part in demonstrating the value of lobbying and advocacy when conducted responsibly.”
The report also lists the Center for Health Transformation and Newt Gingrich by name.
DOCUMENTATION:Novos Annual Report 2005
The United States has precise rules for the registration of lobbyists. If three conditions are met registration is required.
Registration is called for if earnings over three months are more than USD 3,000, more than one person has been contacted in lobbying activity and over three months more than 20 per cent of one’s time is used in lobbying for a single client.
This final condition makes it easy to avoid registration provided a lobbyist has enough clients.
Gingrich’s companies are seen by many as unregistered lobbyists. Today’s New York Times editorial calls for U.S. rules to be changed so that people like Gingrich cannot bypass the rules.
Politiken Research contributed to this article.
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Edited by Julian Isherwood