Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Launches 19-State Coalition to Curb Woke ESG Criteria in Pension Funds

AP Photo/Marta Lavandier

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced a coalition of nineteen states united to push back against a “rule” created by the Biden Labor Department that encourages pension fund managers to include environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) ratings in choosing investments.


The coalition comprises Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming. I can’t find any information on why Texas did not join the effort, but Texas is already hotly engaged in stamping out that bastardized version of Communist China’s social credit score.

In the waning days of the Trump administration, the Labor Department issued a rule that discouraged pension and retirement fund managers from using ESG criteria when making investment decisions.

The rule finalized Friday stipulates that fiduciaries for private pension plans covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) cannot invest in ESG vehicles that sacrifice investment returns or take on additional risk. It specifically requires that ERISA plan fiduciaries “select investments and investment courses of action based solely on financial considerations relevant to the risk-adjusted economic value of a particular investment or investment course of action.”

This rule was promptly reversed when Joe Biden was selected to be president.

“Today’s rule clarifies that retirement plan fiduciaries can take into account the potential financial benefits of investing in companies committed to positive environmental, social and governance actions as they help plan participants make the most of their retirement benefits,” said Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “Removing the prior administration’s restrictions on plan fiduciaries will help America’s workers and their families as they save for a secure retirement.”

The rule, “Prudence and Loyalty in Selecting Plan Investments and Exercising Shareholder Rights,” follows Executive Order 14030, which was signed by President Biden on May 20, 2021. The order directs the federal government to identify and assess policies to protect the life savings and pensions of America’s workers and families from the threats of climate-related financial risk.

“The rule announced today will make workers’ retirement savings and pensions more resilient by removing needless barriers, and ending the chilling effect created by the prior administration on considering environmental, social and governance factors in investments,” said Assistant Secretary for Employee Benefits Security Lisa M. Gomez. “Climate change and other environmental, social and governance factors can be useful for plan investors as they make decisions about how to best grow and protect the retirement savings of America’s workers.”


To call ESG a fraud is to malign hardworking fraudsters everywhere. It is simply a scam to reward companies that are politically connected on the left and punish those out of favor. By using ESG scores in pension and retirement investments, financial giants use the savings of working men and women to reward their leftist friends, while robbing their clients of retirement income.

When the Ponzi scheme/cryptocurrency FTX run by Sam Bankman-Fried self-immolated, it had a sky-high ESG score, particularly in “corporate governance.”

As for the ESG, which seems close to [SEC Chairman Gary] Gensler’s heart, the FTX collapse has exposed it as an emperor without clothes. ESG attempts to rate companies according to how they will weather environmental and social change and how well they are governed. FTX reportedly had stellar ESG scores from a number of different rating agencies.

And no wonder! FTX was working toward being “carbon neutral” and bringing solar power to the Amazon. It was concerned about every trendy environmental or social issue you can think of — global warming, pandemic preparedness and animal welfare, to name a few. On corporate governance, the ESG ratings agency Truvale gave it a higher rating than Exxon-Mobil.

Yet when FTX’s  bankruptcy filing revealed that its internal governance protocols were so lax they’d make a child’s lemonade stand look like the pinnacle of accounting practice. Massive personal loans were made to corporate officers like SBF, board meetings were nonexistent and employees submitted expense claims over chat that were approved by emoji. Better than Exxon-Mobil, really? As British commentator Douglas Murray says, ESG “ought by now to be a great big warning flag to investors and speculators everywhere.” There are all sorts of other vehicles, like non-profits or benefit corporations, that allow for people who want to do good to invest their money that way.


The DeSantis-led coalition seems to be pushing two major initiatives. First, it will block using all ESG criteria in state investment decisions. Instead, state investment decisions will only consider financial factors and how to maximize return on investment. Second, and this may be the most important part, it will prohibit companies from using an ESG score when deciding to offer loans, bank accounts, or lines of credit to individuals and businesses.

This is an excellent first step. We know that when states make these woke decisions painful, they often back down. For instance, credit card companies developed a purchase code to identify gun purchases. I suspect the coding went much deeper and could tell you purchased anything from a store holding a federal firearms license, but that is a different story. Florida and West Virginia passed laws criminalizing that kind of data collection, and the credit card companies have shelved their plans.

There is only so far this effort can take us. We need someone in the White House who will begin dismantling this woke, anti-liberty bullsh**, root and branch, on Day One. Otherwise, we are fighting a rearguard action that may not be successful.


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