A group of 19 Republican governors from “freedom loving states” announced an anti-environmental, social, and governance, or ESG, alliance on Thursday.
“This month, Congress exercised its powers under the Congressional Review Act to disapprove of the Department of Labor Rule relating to ‘Prudence and Loyalty in Selecting Plan Investments and Exercising Shareholder Rights,’” the governors’ joint statement said. “Yet again, President [Joe] Biden put his political agenda above the wellbeing and individual freedoms of hardworking Americans.”
The House and the Senate passed legislation introduced by Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., and Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., to block the Labor Department rule the governors reference. Biden, however, said he’ll veto the Senate bill, which would be his first, CNBC reported.
“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 statement also said.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is leading the alliance, which includes Govs. Kim Reynolds of Iowa, Tate Reeves of Mississippi, Brian Kemp of Georgia, Spencer Cox of Utah, Jim Justice of West Virginia, Mark Gordon of Wyoming, and Kay Ivey of Alabama, among others.
“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 press release about the alliance. “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. Florida has emerged as America’s economic engine, with an unemployment rate consistently lower than the nation’s and the highest rate of business formations of any other state,” the Florida governor added. “We will not stand idly by as the stability of our country’s economy is threatened by woke executives who put their political agenda ahead of their clients’ finances.”
Some other governors forming part of the alliance include Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Bill Lee of Tennessee, Jim Pillen of Nebraska, Brad Little of Idaho, Mike Dunleavy of Alaska, and Greg Gianforte of Montana.
Andrew Olivastro, vice president of Outreach at The Heritage Foundation, said, “these many governors represent the voice and desires of the people.”
“The Biden Administration must stop prioritizing a political agenda over retirement security,” Olivastro told The Daily Signal in a statement. “This is a clear message that senior state executives, like attorneys general and state financial officers before them, recognize ESG is incompatible with self-governance and are fully in the fight.” (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)
The governors’ joint statement also mentions “state-level efforts” aimed at “[protecting] individuals from the ESG movement that threatens the vitality of the American economy and Americans’ economic freedom.”
One of those state-level efforts involves “protecting taxpayers from ESG influences across state systems: Among other actions, this may include blocking the use of ESG in all investment decisions at the state and local level, ensuring that only financial factors are considered to maximize the return on investment, protecting retirees and taxpayers alike. This may also include eliminating consideration of ESG factors by state and local governments when issuing bonds or prohibiting state fund managers from considering ESG factors when investing taxpayer money.”
Another state-level effort includes:
Protecting citizens from ESG influences in the financial sector: Among other actions, this may include banning the financial sector from considering so called “Social Credit Scores” in banking and lending practices aimed to prevent citizens from obtaining financial services like loans, lines of credit, and bank accounts. This may also include stopping financial institutions from discriminating against customers for their religious, political, or social beliefs, such as owning a firearm, securing the border, or increasing our energy independence.
Jessica Anderson, executive director of Heritage Action for America, the grassroots arm of The Heritage Foundation, weighed in on the newly-formed alliance.
“This commitment from 19 governors to take additional action to protect taxpayers across state systems and citizens in the financial sector is crucially important as dozens of states across the country work to pass legislation and enact strong laws to take on the Left’s ESG agenda,” Anderson told The Daily Signal in an emailed statement.
“Especially as President Biden continues to use radical ESG policies to push a left-wing political agenda at the federal level, governors, state treasurers, and state legislatures will remain on the front lines of the fight to protect citizens’ financial interests and state investments,” Anderson said.
The White House did not immediately respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.
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