DeSantis urges Florida not to invest pension funds in ‘woke’ companies – Orlando Sentinel

TALLAHASSEE — Continuing to target what he calls “woke” companies, Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to ban state investments that use “environmental, social and governance” ratings to judge companies.

DeSantis expects the state’s Board of Trustees to advise its pension fund managers “against using political factors when investing state money.” 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 told Harpoon Harry’s Crab on Wednesday. House in Tampa.

ESG involves investors considering a wide range of issues before investing in a company, such as its vulnerabilities to climate change; carbon dioxide emission; product safety; supply chain labor standards; privacy and data security; and executive compensation. Billionaire Elon Musk called ESG a “scam” after his company Tesla was removed from S&P’s ESG index.

DeSantis also said he intends to work during the 2023 legislative session with incoming House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, to enshrine ESG bans in law.

A group called DeSantis Watch, a joint project of Florida Watch and Progress Florida that criticizes the governor, released a statement on Wednesday that said DeSantis’ proposal is “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 meaningful action to protect the livelihoods of people in our state,” the spokeswoman said. Natasha Sutherland.

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.”

State Board officials did not immediately respond to questions on Wednesday.

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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, then the inmates run the asylum,” DeSantis said.

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.

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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