DeSantis takes aim at ‘ideological’ investing – Action News Jax
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Continuing to target what he calls “woke” companies, Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to ban state investments that use “environmental, social and governance” ratings, which may include consideration impacts of climate change.
DeSantis expects the state’s Board of Trustees, which oversees investments, to guide pension fund managers against “the use of political factors when investing state money.” So-called ESG policies have drawn criticism from Republicans across the country.
“We want them (the fund managers) to invest the state money in the interest of the beneficiaries of these funds, that is, again, retired police officers and teachers and other public employees,” DeSantis said Wednesday during an appearance at Harpoon Harry’s Crab House in Tampa.
DeSantis also intends to work during the 2023 legislative session with incoming House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, to enshrine ESG bans in law.
ESG practices can involve considering a wide range of issues in investments, such as companies’ vulnerabilities to climate change; carbon dioxide emission; product safety; supply chain labor standards; privacy and data security; and executive compensation.
The DeSantis Watch organization, a joint project of Florida Watch and Progress Florida that criticizes the governor, released a statement Wednesday that DeSantis’ proposal meets “the bidding of his big donors and billionaire supporters.”
“Florida is ground zero for the climate crisis, but once again Ron DeSantis lacks the courage to take concrete action to protect the livelihoods of people in our state,” said Natasha Sutherland of DeSantis. Watch.
DeSantis, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Attorney General Ashley Moody, who serve as state board trustees, are due to meet at a Cabinet meeting Aug. 23.
The managers oversee about $250 billion in assets, investing money from the Florida Retirement System and 25 other funds, while also overseeing the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, a major reinsurance program.
In June, Patronis also targeted investments involving ESG ratings. At the time, Emilie Oglesby, spokesperson for the state Board of Trustees, said in an email that “as trustees, the SBA and its investment managers are required to consider all relevant risks when making investment decisions”.
Oglesby added that “neither the SBA nor its managers use ESG factors as a means of filtering or limiting the set of available investment opportunities.”
Supporting DeSantis on Wednesday, Tina Descovich, co-founder of the conservative group Moms for Liberty, said her organization and some members had accounts frozen by PayPal.
“In an age of canceled culture, where parenting rights groups are being designated as domestic terrorists by our own United States Department of Justice, the cancellation of our funding by major organizations seems like the next step in these draconian policies,” Descovich said while at Harpoon Harry’s.
On its website, PayPal said that building “a more inclusive and financially interconnected world is the foundation of our values-driven culture, which is built on inclusion, innovation, collaboration and well-being in our communities, our workforces and our strategies”.
PayPal said its ESG strategy extends to a mission “to promote financial well-being and empower those who are underserved by the financial community.”
DeSantis said companies are being invaded by activist employees, who “believe they have a right to see their employer fundamentally expressing the same political values as they do.”
“The problem is that then the inmates run the asylum,” DeSantis continued.
Patronis, in a June letter to the SBA, called the practice “an anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-freedom ideology disguised as a sophisticated business practice.”
At the Harpoon Harry’s event, Renner backed DeSantis’ call, saying “the global elites” are “arming American capitalism against us.”
Renner, who will become Speaker of the House after the November election, called the companies’ practices a national security and pocketbook issue.
“What we have are these big corporations and banks pursuing a woke agenda that artificially drives up our energy costs,” Renner said. “There’s a reason we haven’t built new refineries. There’s a reason we don’t drill for oil even though we have more reserves in this country than anywhere else in the world, it’s because the banks and this woke agenda is stifling their ability to get financing for the TO DO.
DeSantis said ESG is being used by “the upper echelons of our society” to impose “woke ideology on the economy.”
“We don’t want to see the economy become more politicized, and we want to push back the politicization that has already happened,” DeSantis said. “Our investment of funds should be in the best interest of our beneficiaries here in the State of Florida, it should not be a means of imposing an ideological agenda.”
The state is embroiled in lawsuits over a new law that restricts race-related workplace training and classroom instruction, dubbed by DeSantis the “Stop WOKE Law.”
In one case, the companies argue the law violates their ability to discuss issues such as racism and implicit bias with employees. State officials described the law as preventing “indoctrination.”
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