DeSantis Eliminates ESG From State Pension Investments

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Aug. 18, 2022. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

PUNTA GORDA, Fla.–Gov. Ron DeSantis made good on his promise to take action against the environmental, social and corporate governance movement (ESG), which he called an “alarming trend” and a threat to the American economy.

On Aug. 23  the governor, along with trustees of the State Board of Administration (SBA), passed a resolution directing Florida’s fund managers to make investments that do not involve the ideological agenda of the ESG.

“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,” said DeSantis said in a written 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.”

At a July 27 press conference in Tampa, the governor said that most Americans were not aware of what ESG was and what the goal is of “leveraging corporate power to impose an ideological agenda on society.” He promised to do something about it.

Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI), an investment research firm in New York, described ESG as “investing as the consideration of environmental, social and governance factors alongside financial factors in the investment decision-making process.”

But some view the movement as a sinister force.

James Lindsay, the author of “Race Marxism,” described ESG as a “weapon in the hands of ‘social justice warriors’ to shake down corporations and a tool in the hands of those seeking to impose ‘one world government.’”

DeSantis’ resolution followed an action taken in December 2021 when he reclaimed the SBA’s proxy voting authority from “large financial firms,” and provided guidance to the SBA for proxy voting and investment decisions.

“This guidance will 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,” the governor’s office said in a prepared statement.

In the upcoming 2023 legislative session, the governor plans to propose laws that would amend Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices statute that would prohibit discriminatory practices by large financial institutions that incorporate the ESG social credit score metric.

Incoming Florida House Speaker Paul Renner said that ESG is “a global elite weaponizing American capitalism against us” making it a national security issue as well as a “pocketbook issue.”

He warned that going down an ESG path would lead to companies being “choked off” of their ability to obtain financing and would hurt industries such as agriculture.

“So if you’re a meat eater, get ready,” he warned at a press conference on July 27. “They’re against meat and so they’re driving up food prices. These people don’t care—[they] will open our borders, choke off our agriculture sector, and basically weaken this country for their own local agenda.”

The governor’s statement went on to say that the “financial security” of Floridians is a priority over “whimsical notions of a utopian tomorrow,” and is “reasserting the authority of a republican governance.”

Jannis Falkenstern

Jannis Falkenstern is an Epoch Times reporter who covers the state of Florida.

https://www.theepochtimes.com/desantis-eliminates-esg-from-state-pension-investments_4683938.html