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Florida Gov. DeSantis to Form Anti-ESG State Coalition

ESG Investing

Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., on Thursday announced an alliance with 18 states to “push back against President Biden’s environmental, social, corporate governance (ESG) agenda.”

The Washington Examiner, citing a press statement, said each state would commit to “efforts to protect individuals from the ESG movement” and consider divesting state assets and pension funds from companies that adhere to ESG tenets, the paper reported.

“At my direction, Florida has led the way in combating 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 the release.

States in the alliance include Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming, according to DeSantis’s office.

“Proliferation of ESG throughout America is a direct threat to the American economy, individual economic freedom, and our way of life, putting investment decisions in the hands of the woke mob to bypass the ballot box and inject political ideology into investment decisions, corporate governance, and the everyday economy,” a draft letter expected to be signed by the states reads.

The news comes as speculation about a possible DeSantis 2024 presidential run remains high.

The latest announcement is part of a larger effort by Republicans and some Democrats to counter what they see as the imposition of a “woke” agenda in public defined contribution and defined benefit plans.

In early March, both the House of Representatives and the Senate approved a resolution to block the Labor Department’s ESG rule, something President Biden is expected to veto, the first of his administration.

In February, a lawsuit was brought by 24 Republican-led states to prevent the Department of Labor’s ESG rule from taking effect.

Plaintiffs claimed the rule, Prudence and Loyalty in Selecting Plan Investments and Exercising Shareholder Rights, oversteps the DOL’s statutory authority under ERISA and called it arbitrary and capricious.