By Lydia Nusbaum
July 27, 2022 Updated 1:40 P.M. ET
TAMPA (FLV) – Gov. Ron DeSantis took a stand Wednesday against banks and fund managers using the “woke” environmental, social and governance criteria (ESG), which is used by socially conscious investors to screen potential investments.
The ESG criteria rates companies based on factors like how the company addresses climate change and its relationships with employees. Governor DeSantis said this criteria is used to target “disfavored” individuals and industries to advance a “woke” ideological agenda.
“Do we want our society to be governed by some of the most economically elite and powerful interests in society?” DeSantis asked. “And I think our economy is going to be much better off if everything is not politicized. It used to be it wasn’t a political issue. You didn’t have to take positions on every little thing.”
“Now almost everything that’s being done, there’s a political overtone to it. You can’t run an economy effectively if that’s the case.”
The governor announced current administrative changes and legislation that will be introduced for the legislative session.
Florida will prohibit the State Board of Administration fund managers from using political factors to determine where to invest the state’s money. This board includes the fund managers that manage the state of Florida’s pension funds. DeSantis said the fund has close to $200 billion.
“We want to make sure that they are not using political factors when investing the state’s money,” DeSantis said. “We want them to invest the state’s money for the best interests of the beneficiaries of those funds, which is again, the people that are retired cops and teachers and other public employees.”
The governor said SBA fund managers will be required to only consider maximizing the return on investment on behalf of Florida retirees.
“I think that’s what people want to see,” he said. “They want to see a good pension system.”
It was also announced that the state would prohibit Wall Street banks, credit card companies and money transmitters like PayPal from discriminating against customers for their religious, political or social beliefs.
“They’re using things like social credit scores to be able to marginalize people that they don’t like,” DeSantis said.
Tina Descovich, the co-founder of the nonprofit Moms for Liberty, shared how the organization received thousands of donations from people until Paypal froze the accounts. Descovich said they had already filed all of the correct paperwork.
“Paypal continued to allow the donations to come in but they did not allow us to withdraw those funds. It brought our organization to a screeching halt,” she said.
Descovich shared another example from two weeks ago where the group’s account was suspended and their donors were kicked off paypal the morning the governor spoke at the Moms for Liberty National Summit.
The governor provided other examples of banks excluding businesses from receiving financing for the type of production they produce. For example, DeSantis said the GEO Group, a security company, works with ICE and prisons. He said Wall Street banks cut off the credit to the GEO Group “because there were activists who want to abolish ICE.”
“Those activists cannot implement those policies through the ballot box. People don’t want to abolish prisons. People don’t want to abolish ICE. People don’t want to defund law enforcement and so they try to do it through the backdoor by basically kneecapping some of these companies.”
House Speaker-designate Paul Renner was at the press conference when Governor DeSantis announced that lawmakers will clarify the Florida statute regarding fiduciary obligations for fund manager, companies and CEOs. DeSantis said the obligation requires these groups maximize money for the best interest of the shareholders instead of making decisions based on a political stance or advocacy.
Governor DeSantis’ proposed legislation for the 2023 Legislative Session will:
– Prohibit big banks, credit card companies and money transmitters from discriminating against customers for their religious, political, or social beliefs.
– Prohibit State Board of Administration (SBA) fund managers from considering ESG factors when investing the state’s money.
– Require SBA fund managers to only consider maximizing the return on investment on behalf of Florida’s retirees.
“I just want to thank the governor for his leadership on this very, very important issue which is basically global elite weaponizing American capitalism against us,” Renner said. “This is both a national security issue and a pocketbook issue.”
Renner said corporations and banks are pursing a “woke” agenda that is “artificially” driving up our costs in industries like energy and agriculture by financially “choking” the companies in the industry.
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