Governor Ron DeSantis is expanding his attack on “woke” capitalism, promising to punish investment advisers and banks who consider the environmental and social implications of investing and not just short-term results.
At a Wednesday press conference in Tampa, he pointed to the “ESG” investment movement, which stands for environment, social and governance (i.e. the way companies are structured). The move is also known as “sustainable” investing, but DeSantis said it amounts to “the politicization of the economy.”
“It benefits the biggest and most powerful companies and disadvantages small and medium-sized companies. And so, it’s not something that empowers, a little bit, the little guy. You know, it’s something that in many ways crushes the little guy,” he said.
“You have a handful of people in Davos deciding all of this, that this is how we’re supposed to live? Not in my custody. Not here in the state of Florida,” he said in another election-year appeal to his Trumpist base after his previous attack on The Walt Disney Co.
(Davos, Switzerland is the site of the annual World Economic Forum, attended by the world’s business elite.)
A display behind the governor read, “Government of laws, not wake up CEOs.”
Paul Renner, the Republican representing Flagler and parts of St. Johns and Volusia counties who is slated to be the next Florida House speaker, said at the event that the legislature would support the governor with legislation implementing the policy. .
The new President of the Florida Senate, Kathleen Passidomo, was not present.
Renner described the trend as “essentially a global elite weaponizing American capitalism against us.” It’s both a national security issue and a pocketbook issue, Renner said, driving up energy costs, ‘stifling’ investment in private companies helping with border enforcement and influencing production. agricultural.
“If you’re a meat eater, brace yourself,” Renner said.
“If you were trying to take down a great nation, my question is, what would you do differently?”
The DeSantis Plan
The plan, according to the governor, is to:
- Prohibit the State Board of Directors, which manages some $240 million in retirement investments on behalf of the state and some local government retirees, from considering what DeSantis called “political factors” . The board includes DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. Its next meeting is scheduled for August 23.
- Require that state fund managers “only consider maximizing return on investment on behalf of Florida retirees.”
- Prohibit banks, credit card companies and financial platforms like PayPal “from discriminating against customers because of their religious, political or social beliefs”. Moms for Liberty co-founder Tina Descovich complained at the press conference that the company had withheld donations to the group.
DeSantis Watch, a joint effort by Progress Florida and Florida Watch to defeat DeSantis in November, responded Wednesday with a statement saying DeSantis’ plans would limit Florida’s ability to address the climate crisis:
‘Today Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that he would prohibit the State Board of Directors (SBA) from considering the impact of companies in which the state invests through our pension fund on the environment, their commitment to human rights and their standards on bribery and corruption. By prohibiting the use of environmental, social and governance standards when the state makes investment decisions, the governor is once again bidding his big donors and billionaire supporters like Elon Musk instead of passing the best interests of Floridians first,” it read. .
“Florida is ground zero for the climate crisis, but again Ron DeSantis lack of courage to take concrete action to protect the livelihoods of the people of our state,” said DeSantis look Constituency Director Natasha Sutherland.
DeSantis’ policy “doesn’t attack corporations, it auctions off the worst of them by refusing to address their environmental impacts, their human rights records or their levels of corruption during that the state invests our tax dollars with them.Rather than working on behalf of Floridians who fear their jobs will not exist as rising sea levels destroy our coasts, the Governor is fighting to show Elon Musk how much he wants to add him to his stable of 42 billionaires already supporting his political ambitions.
The governor’s initiative reflects a broader movement among Republican heads of state, including in energy-producing states like Alaska and Texas, to divest from ESG-promoting companies and investment funds. , according to a report by The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Leaders in these states complain that it has become “difficult for fossil fuel projects to find insurance, financing and other support if they fail to meet some of the sustainability standards,” the Pew report says.
Also present at the press conference was Justin Danhof, head of corporate governance for Strive Asset Management, which promises “excellence not politics” to its investors. The $20 million fund presents itself as an alternative to the three biggest asset managers: BlackRock Inc., Vanguard Group Inc. and State Street Corp., which control $20 trillion. Investors in Strive include billionaire right-wing activist Peter Thiel.
DeSantis met with Vivek Ramaswami, co-founder of Strive and author of “Woke Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam,” on Tuesday, according to the governor’s official agenda for the day.
“Right now in America, nearly 250 years after we declared our freedom from the British, we are fighting a new monarchy. It is in fact a giant ideological cartel,” Danhof said of of the Big Three, accusing them of “transforming the social fabric in ways that most Americans don’t agree with.”
form a block
DeSantis said, “What we need to do is get other like-minded states to make sure that all of the voting rights in our pension systems are used en bloc, essentially.”
“Obviously California and New York are going to do their things the other way around. We understand that. But if we could have Florida, Texas, you know, Arizona, Tennessee – a lot of those states could get together and we’d have a lot of money, uh, a lot of voting power, under management, and so we could be a real check against a lot of the excesses that we’ve seen and probably have, uh, enough resources to push back a lot of these things,” he added.
He blamed pressure from “activist employees” and outside groups.
“But then I also think, you know, some of these people – it’s one thing to make a lot of money; some of these people really want to wield power over the rest of us,” the governor said.
“And I think it’s a power game where, yes, some of these people who run these institutions are ineligible if they ever wanted to run for anything because they’re just not attractive in terms of what they would stand for. But, if they could do politics through a big bank or an asset manager or something like that – well, they’re really shaping society based on of their ideological vision.