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ROCK BOTTOM: DeSantis’s $2 BILLION culture war boondoggle

ROCK BOTTOM: DeSantis’s $2 BILLION culture war boondoggle

ROCK BOTTOM: DeSantis's $2 BILLION culture war boondoggle

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Florida is the gift that keeps on giving – if authoritarianism is your thing as Governor Ron DeSantis and his regime continue to play culture war politics with companies whose policies they disagree with, this time taking on the world’s largest asset management firm, BlackRock.

On Friday, DeSantis henchman and Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis announced the state will freeze securities and long short-term investments managed by the company over its Environmental, Social, and Governance business model – also known as ESG.

“Whether stakeholder capitalism, or ESG standard, are being pushed by BlackRock for ideological reasons, or to develop social credit ratings, the effect is to avoid dealing with the messiness of democracy,” Patronis said according to the Tampa Bay Times. “BlackRock CEO Larry Fink is on a campaign to change the world.”

I think it’s undemocratic of major asset managers to use their power to influence societal outcomes, If Larry Fink, or his friends on Wall Street, want to change the world – run for office. Start a nonprofit. Donate to the causes you care about. Using our cash, however, to fund BlackRock’s social-engineering project isn’t something Florida ever signed up for. – Patronis

But investors do sign up to make money.

With roughly $8 trillion under asset management, not only is BlackRock the largest firm of its kind internationally, but has consistently outperformed its competitors in its market choices, and is currently in high demand on Wall Street, investment site Motley Fool, reported.

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Companies like BlackRock that employ ESG standards take a variety of issues into account when making investment decisions for their clients – including racial equity, product safety, carbon footprint, labor standards, data security, and privacy–something that Fink says contributes to the success of those using the model, versus others in the field.

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The financial services CEO, a big proponent of ESG, pushed back on Patronis’ attempts to politicize a non-political issue.

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“Stakeholder capitalism is not about politics,” Fink wrote. “It is not a social or ideological agenda. It is not ‘woke.’ It is capitalism, driven by mutually beneficial relations between you and the employees, customers, suppliers, and communities your company relies on  to prosper.”

Patronis, along with DeSantis and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, approved a measure to direct pension managers away from investing state money using ESG ratings.

Nearly $1.5 billion in long-term securities and another $600 million in short-term securities will be frozen.

Approximately $60 billion that Florida’s Department of Financial Services oversees will be relocated, according to Patronis.

In its most recent quarterly report, the BlackRock CEO wrote, “We continue to evolve our organization, think comprehensively about our clients’ portfolios and innovate ahead of their needs, all of which is deepening connectivity across our platform.”

Florida doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to making investment decisions.

Earlier this year, Occupy Democrats previously reported that DeSantis’ refusal to heed calls to divest over $300 of Florida Pension Fund investments in Russia after Putin’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine cost pensioners at least $200 million.

Republicans have waged war against companies seeking to become better corporate citizens in addition to making their investors money, unwilling to comply with ESG standards – or anything positive for the world and community.

“We are relentlessly committed to bringing together the best of BlackRock in order to deliver better outcomes that will benefit our clients, employees, and shareholders,” Fink said.

Now, if only Gov. DeSantis and his band of GOP thugs were committed to delivering the best outcomes to benefit the people of Florida.  Unfortunately it seems like they’re bankrupt in that department.

Original reporting by Jim Turner, News Service of Florida, and Tampa Bay Times.

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick

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Ty Ross
News journalist for Occupy Democrats.

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