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Glaxo cuts political giving, keeps PAC

GlaxoSmithKline said it's going to stop giving money to politicians, mostly Republicans. But its "independent political action committee" will keep giving employee cash to campaigns.

GlaxoSmithKline, the UK-based multinational drugmaker that owns what used to be Smith Kline & French in Philadelphia and Montgomery County, said in a brief statement it will "voluntarily stop all corporate political contributions." U.S. grants to the pharmacy company's friends in Washington and state capitals totalled $585,425 so far this year, of which about 58% went to Republicans, said spokeswoman Sarah Alspach.

"We believe that stopping corporate political contributions is the right thing to do," in order to "improve transparency in terms of our interations with governments, political leaders and candidate for office," said new Glaxo chief executive Andrew Witty in a statement. Though he also saw fit to deny that previous contributions had given Glaxo any "special privileges."

But Glaxo said it will keep its political action committee "to facilitate contributions by eligible GSK employees." The committe collected $726,550 from around 5,000 employees this year to give to U.S. politicians this year, with roughly 58% again going to Republicans, Alspach said.