FIRST ON FOX: Missouri has pulled $500 million in state pension funds managed by New York-based financial institution BlackRock over the company's environmental and social priorities.
Missouri State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick announced Tuesday morning in a statement first provided to FOX Business that the Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System (MOSERS), of which he is a member, sold all public equities managed by BlackRock. With the announcement, Missouri joins a growing list of Republican-led states who have quit BlackRock and other banks over their environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives.
"This is the right thing to do for Missouri state employees who rely on the assets managed by MOSERS for their retirement," Fitzpatrick told FOX Business. "Fiduciary duty must remain the top priority for investment managers—a duty some of them have abdicated in favor of forcing a left wing social and political agenda that has failed to succeed legislatively, on publicly traded companies."
"We should not allow asset managers such as BlackRock, who have demonstrated that they will prioritize advancing a woke political agenda above the financial interests of their customers, to continue speaking on behalf of the state of Missouri," he continued. "It is past time that all investors recognize the massive fiduciary breach that is taking place before our eyes, and do something about it."
Fitzpatrick added that MOSERS has an obligation to manage its assets in a way that prioritizes providing maximum returns for retirees and taxpayers, not forwarding left-wing policies. He said he would continue to prevent tax dollars from being weaponized against state taxpayers.
BlackRock and other major financial institutions like State Street and Vanguard have spearheaded an effort to promote ESG standards over the last several years. The ESG movement broadly seeks to promote a green energy transition and left-wing social priorities through the financial sector.
Republican states and groups like the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF), though, have waged a war against the ESG movement, arguing it is anti-democratic and harms taxpayers by pushing investments that don't result in maximum earnings for consumers.
"Missouri State Treasurer Fitzpatrick is taking decisive action to protect the people of Missouri by divesting pension funds from BlackRock, who has weaponized ESG by pushing radical climate and social policies under the guise of an investment strategy," SFOF CEO Derek Kreifels said Tuesday. "BlackRock’s reckless agenda is robbing Americans of their retirement dollars and driving up costs from the gas pump to the grocery store."
The SFOF has successfully organized a coalition of state treasurers over the last several months to leverage their pension plans and state investments to block banks from pursuing an ESG agenda. West Virginia, Louisiana, Texas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Florida, South Carolina, Arizona, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Arkansas and North Dakota have all pushed back against the ESG movement.
"Treasurer Fitzpatrick is the latest in a growing line of state officials who are taking action to show the citizens of their state they’re willing to do what it takes to protect their financial well-being from BlackRock’s dishonest investment strategy," Will Hild, the executive director of Consumer's Research, a consumer group that has raised the alarm on how ESG policies harm taxpayers, said in a statement to FOX Business.
"Adding to the fact that BlackRock is prioritizing politics over profits, is the primary role they’ve played in crippling American energy companies and driving our nation into our current energy crisis," Hild said. "BlackRock's ESG crusade has harmed American consumers financially, and it will leave many Americans struggling to heat their homes this winter."
BlackRock didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. But in September, the company wrote a scathing letter to 19 Republican attorneys general who threatened action against it over its ESG policies.
"We are disturbed by the emerging trend of political initiatives that sacrifice pension plans’ access to high-quality investments – and thereby jeopardize pensioners’ financial returns," the firm wrote at the time.