Missouri State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick announced on Tuesday that the state’s retirement system sold $500 million in public equities managed by BlackRock over the firm’s commitment to environmental, social, and governance investing, also known as ESG.
The news comes after several conservative states divested more than $1 billion in funds from BlackRock, leading to concerns on Wall Street about the asset management company’s risk profile and inducing a mild stock market selloff. Fitzpatrick said in a statement provided to The Daily Wire that the divestment is “the right thing to do” for Missouri state employees who rely on the funds for their retirement plans.
“Fiduciary duty must remain the top priority for investment managers — a duty some of them have abdicated in favor of forcing a left wing social and political agenda that has failed to succeed legislatively,” Fitzpatrick said. “We should not allow asset managers such as BlackRock, who have demonstrated that they will prioritize advancing a woke political agenda above the financial interests of their customers, to continue speaking on behalf of the state of Missouri.”
While South Carolina pulled $200 million from BlackRock due to the company’s “leftist worldview,” which causes executives to “undermine” their fiduciary responsibilities, Louisiana also announced intentions earlier this month to divest a total of nearly $800 million from BlackRock. Weeks earlier, the state of Texas revealed that BlackRock and nine other firms had violated state law by “refusing to deal with” or “terminating business activities with” companies involved in the production and use of fossil fuels “without an ordinary business purpose.”
BlackRock, which manages $8.5 trillion in assets, has made public stands regarding climate change and various social matters. The firm has taken “voting action on climate issues” against dozens of its portfolio companies, according to an investment stewardship report.
“It is past time that all investors recognize the massive fiduciary breach that is taking place before our eyes, and do something about it,” Fitzpatrick continued, remarking that BlackRock had rendered Missourians’ tax dollars “weaponized against them.”
Among other leading asset management executives, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink believes that “climate risk is investment risk.” The company said in a recent letter to state attorneys general that the officials inaccurately portray ESG as a departure from the maximization of profits, asserting that entities that assume a “forward-looking position with respect to climate risk and its implications for the energy transition will generate better long-term financial outcomes.”
The debate over the ESG movement has grown more heated since the beginning of the year amid soaring energy prices, which many contend are a result of public policy that emphasizes renewable power sources. According to the most recent winter fuels outlook from the Energy Information Administration, the typical American household using natural gas for space heating will spend $931 on power from October to March, marking a $206 increase since last year.
“Adding to the fact that BlackRock is prioritizing politics over profits, is the primary role they’ve played in crippling American energy companies and driving our nation into our current energy crisis,” Consumers’ Research Executive Director Will Hild said in a statement provided to The Daily Wire. “BlackRock’s ESG crusade has harmed American consumers financially, and it will leave many Americans struggling to heat their homes this winter.”