FIRST ON FOX: Seventeen Republican attorneys general sent a letter to a billion-dollar financial firm regarding its subsidiary alleged promoting an anti-Semitic movement in its environmental, social and governance (ESG) push.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey led a letter with 15 of their fellow state top cops to the financial firm Morningstar, Inc. alleging it was furthering the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Sustainalytics.
Cameron told Fox News Digital that he has "previously made clear that politics has no place in public pensions" and that the Tuesday "letter to Morningstar makes clear that anti-Semitism has no place in public pensions either."
"I'm proud of the multi-state coalition that Kentucky and West Virginia led to support Israel and to push back against the anti-Israel ESG agenda," Cameron added.
"For more than 30 years, our firm has focused on delivering innovative solutions that have enabled the world’s leading institutional investors to identify, understand, and manage ESG-driven risks and opportunities," the company’s "About Us" page reads.
"With Sustainalytics now a part of Morningstar, we’re accelerating our efforts to bring meaningful ESG insights to investors of all types across different asset classes at the company and fund level," it continues.
In the letter exclusively obtained by Fox News Digital, the attorneys general wrote that Sustainalytics "may be furthering the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel" on behalf of Morningstar.
The Republican top cops explained the BDS movement "is an anti-Semitic campaign to intimidate the Jewish people and delegitimize the State of Israel" and that the "movement advances these aims through academic, cultural, and economic initiatives that punish people and firms for doing business with Israel."
"According to the co-founder of BDS, it ‘oppose[s] a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.’ Another anti-Israel activist explained that "[t]here’s no Israel.… That’s what [BDS is] really about," the attorneys general wrote. "The States we represent stand with Israel and with the Jewish people. It is why, to date, 35 States have adopted laws, executive orders, or resolutions in opposition to BDS."
"In March 2021, Morningstar conducted an internal review to determine whether the company’s practices furthered the BDS movement. In Morningstar’s own words, that review ‘was overly dismissive of the serious bias concerns raised,’" the letter read. "So the company hired the law firm of White & Case to conduct a more thorough investigation."
"Their investigation revealed a number of alarming issues," the attorneys general wrote.
The first issue the Republicans pointed to was that Sustainalytics is an ESG rating and research firm that "assesses certain products, services, and businesses to determine the extent to which they meet left-wing ESG goals" and that the company "publishes its findings via a system of risk ratings."
"These risk ratings influence the investment decisions of government agencies and financial managers," the letter read, going on to point out that "Sustainalytics’s ratings rely on a guidance document on ‘Occupied Territories.’"
"That document asserts that ‘in occupied territories where human rights are being systematically violated, any business activity in that region is connected to [human rights] violations in some direct or indirect way.’ Sustainalytics considers East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights as ‘Occupied… Territories.’ Therefore, Sustainalytics inexplicably considers any business activity in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights to advance human rights abuses."
The attorneys general said Sustainalytics also "places companies on a ‘Watchlist’ for activities related to ‘surveillance/security for the checkpoints or wall,’ which appears to be a reference to counter-terrorism checkpoints and barriers used to prevent suicide bombers and other threats from entering Israel."
Additionally, the Republicans said the company puts firms on the "Watchlist for "the supply of arms" to Israel."
"It is not clear what type of arms are covered by this definition," the letter read. "Regardless, Israel has a right to defend itself, and no company should be watchlisted for lawfully providing resources so Israel can safeguard its citizens."
"By impeding such projects, Sustainalytics is endorsing one of BDS’s direct objectives: the removal of Jewish people from certain parts of Israel. Furthermore, it is categorically anti-Semitic to make it more difficult for Jewish people to live in a neighborhood—one need not be an historian to understand the severe ramifications of previous attempts to confine Jewish people to particular and limited areas."
The letter states that Sustainalytics’ "ratings draw no distinction between companies that operate in certain parts of Israel and those that operate in countries responsible for horrific human rights abuses," such as China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.
"Sustainalytics’s failure to draw a distinction between Israeli democracy and repressive regimes shocks our collective conscience," the state attorneys wrote.
"Sixth, Sustainalytics’s research and ratings depend on information from known supporters of the BDS movement," they continued. "Sustainalytics pulls data from Who Profits, which was founded to promote BDS goals; Amnesty International, which accuses Israel of ‘apartheid;’ and Human Rights Watch, which accuses Israel of ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘persecution against millions.’"
"Reliance on such inherently biased data inevitably leads to anti-Israel bias," the attorneys general wrote before calling on Morningstar to respond to their letter by the end of August.
A spokesperson for Morningstar told Fox News Digital the company "does not support the anti-Israel BDS campaign" and that the firm is reviewing the letter and "plans to respond."