Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has banned the state’s pension funds from considering so-called environmental, social and governance standards — known as “ESG” — when making investments for retirees.

DeSantis, who has frequently blasted businesses for engaging in “woke” politics, is chairman of Florida’s three-member State Board of Administration and had personally backed a resolution imposing the ban that was passed on Tuesday.

The resolution directs fund managers to instead invest state resources in a way that “prioritizes the highest return on investment” without considering what DeSantis described as the “ideological agenda” of ESG guidelines.

Ron DeSantis
Ron DeSantis said ESG standards should not play a role in state investments.
AP

“Corporate power has increasingly been utilized to impose an ideological agenda on the American people through the perversion of financial investment priorities under the euphemistic banners of environmental, social, and corporate governance and diversity, inclusion, and equity,” DeSantis said in a statement.

“With the resolution we passed today, the tax dollars and proxy votes of the people of Florida will no longer be commandeered by Wall Street financial firms and used to implement policies through the board room that Floridians reject at the ballot box,” he added.

The resolution marked the latest instance of DeSantis’ confrontational relationship with corporations that attempt to wade into political issues. The Florida governor famously clashed with Disney executives earlier this year after CEO Bob Chapek publicly opposed Florida’s Republican-backed “Don’t Say Gay” law.

DeSantis, a likely 2024 presidential candidate, led a successful push to revoke Disney’s special tax status in Florida during the spat.

Florida’s State Board of Administration oversees more than 30 state pension funds with approximately $240 billion under management through the end of May, according to a recent performance report cited by Bloomberg.

Disney protestors
Florida Republicans battled Disney after the company opposed the “Don’t Say Gay” law.
Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

DeSantis serves as chairman of the board, which also includes Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis – each of whom are Republicans.

DeSantis’ office noted the resolution followed a previous move in December to retake control of proxy voting authority on investments from large funds.

The governor’s team said guidance provided to state employees now responsible for the proxy voting would “ensure that the decisions made by these civil servants on behalf of the people of Florida are in accordance with the voters’ values as expressed through the democratic process rather than blindly in lockstep with the ESG mania taking hold of Wall Street and Washington.”

Disney protestors.
Florida revoked Disney’s special tax status this year.
Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag
Larry Fink
Larry Fink has drawn criticism for his comments on business practices, particularly stakeholder capitalism.
Seth Wenig/AP

ESG guidelines have gained popularity with Wall Street firms in recent years. The guidelines often refer to initiatives related to corporate diversity and climate change.

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink defended so-called “stakeholder capitalism” in his letter to investors in January, arguing that his firm’s consideration of climate change as part of investment strategy was simply good business rather than political.

“Stakeholder capitalism is not about politics. It is not a social or ideological agenda. It is not ‘woke,’” Fink wrote in the letter. “It is capitalism, driven by mutually beneficial relationships between you and the employees, customers, suppliers, and communities your company relies on to prosper. This is the power of capitalism.”



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