Financial Officers Seek to Ensure States’ Economic Interests are Protected
State Treasurer Riley Moore today announced he has joined a coalition of 22 State Treasurers and Auditors from 19 states to send letters to the nation’s largest asset managers and proxy advisory firms to determine if they are placing subjective environmental or social causes ahead of the long-term economic interests of the states.
“As the chief financial officers of our states, we have a duty to ensure our public funds are managed and invested according to our citizens’ best interests,” Treasurer Moore said. “Unfortunately, we believe the shareholding voting process that is the backbone of American capitalism has been corrupted by woke activists who are trying to use other people’s investments to push their own social or political agendas.”
The coalition has sent letters to the nation’s 20 largest asset managers and major proxy advisory firms to answer how a broad array of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues factor into their evaluation process and whether they are acting in the best long-term economic interests of their clients. Companies targeted by the letters include proxy advisory firms Institutional Shareholder Solutions (ISS) and Glass Lewis, along with asset managers including BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street and Fidelity.
“These firms control the overwhelming majority of shareholder votes in this country, and we want to ensure there is sufficient transparency and accountability in that process,” Treasurer Moore said. “We want our nation’s largest asset managers and proxy advisory firms to detail how they analyze and vote on shareholder proposals that might go beyond the best financial interests of those affected.”
West Virginia has been leading the way to target ESG activism on Wall Street.
Last January, Treasurer Moore was the first state official to divest funds from BlackRock over its ESG activism. He also championed legislation to create the country’s first Restricted Financial Institutions List, which prohibits state business with firms shown to be engaged in boycotts of the fossil fuel industries.
Earlier this year, Treasurer Moore proposed House Bill 2862, which was overwhelmingly passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Jim Justice. The bill requires the state’s investment boards – which manage more than $34 billion in public pension and state investment funds – to cast proxy votes solely based on the financial interests of pensioners and taxpayers, rather than Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors.
Examples of the coalition’s letters can be viewed here: