Chris Lieberman, FISM News
Gov. Ron DeSantis is leading the charge against the Biden administration’s support for environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) investing. On Thursday, the Florida governor unveiled an alliance with 18 other state governors to oppose the president’s ESG agenda.
“At my direction, Florida has led the way in combatting the pernicious effects of the ESG regime by directing our state pension fund managers to reject ESG and instead focus on obtaining the highest return on investment for Florida’s taxpayers and retirees,” DeSantis said in a statement announcing the new coalition. “At the time I said we would spearhead an initiative to join with other like-minded states to send an even louder message to the financial industry that the American people have rejected ESG at the ballot box, and ideologues cannot and should not circumnavigate the will of the people. Today, we have delivered on that promise.”
The governors of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming, all Republicans, signed a joint statement with DeSantis announcing the partnership.
“We as freedom loving states can work together and leverage our state pension funds to force change in how major asset managers invest the money of hardworking Americans, ensuring corporations are focused on maximizing shareholder value, rather than the proliferation of woke ideology,” the governors wrote.
ESG is a set of criteria used by investors to evaluate a company based on non-financial factors, such as carbon emissions, environmental impact, and diversity. Critics warn that ESG amounts to a sort of “social credit score” that could be used to discriminate against people based on their political and religious beliefs, and that it encourages investments based on a political ideology rather than the economic benefit of the account holder.
“The proliferation of ESG throughout America is a direct threat to the American economy, individual economic freedom, and our way of life, putting investment decisions in the hands of the woke mob to bypass the ballot box and inject political ideology into investment decisions, corporate governance, and the everyday economy,” the governors said.
In forming the coalition, DeSantis is seeking to expand to other states a proposal he put forward last month to safeguard Floridians against ESG policies. The governor’s proposal would ban financial institutions from discriminating against customers based on their political, religious, or social beliefs and prohibit state and local governments from using ESG considerations in procurement, contracting, and issuing bonds.
Recently, Congress passed a resolution rolling back a Department of Labor rule permitting retirement fund managers to consider ESG factors when investing. Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) joined Republicans in supporting the resolution, which passed both the Senate and the House.
President Biden, however, is expected to veto the bill.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre slammed the resolution earlier this month, telling reporters, “[The bill] forces MAGA Republicans’ ideology down the throats of the private sector and handcuffing [sic] investors as well. The bill would bar fiduciaries from considering significant risks like extreme climate threats and poor corporate governance when they make investment decisions.”