Arizona Uses State Pension Plan to Push Woke Agenda

Arizona Uses State Pension Plan to Push Woke Agenda

According to watchdog group American Accountability Foundation (AAF), Arizona is using its state pension fund to push a woke agenda.

The Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS) is using pension funds to back environmental, social and governance (ESG) shareholder resolutions on issues including race, gender, climate and politics.

Forbes describes the criteria for the ESG strategy as:

Environment. What kind of impact does a company have on the environment? This can include a company’s carbon footprint, toxic chemicals involved in its manufacturing processes and sustainability efforts that make up its supply chain.

Social. How does the company improve its social impact, both within the company and in the broader community? Social factors include everything from LGBTQ+ equality, racial diversity in both the executive suite and staff overall, and inclusion programs and hiring practices. It even looks at how a company advocates for social good in the wider world, beyond its limited sphere of business.

Governance. How does the company’s board and management drive positive change? Governance includes everything from issues surrounding executive pay to diversity in leadership as well as how well that leadership responds to and interacts with shareholders

AAF reveals that ASRS is promoting:

  • Decarbonization policies that would hurt America’s oil and gas industry.
  • Divisive “racial equity” audits that would stigmatize and disadvantage white men and women, Asians, Jews, and other groups who are disfavored by left wing groups.
  • Policies to hurt gun manufacturers.
  • Efforts to defund conservative groups and candidates that represent small businesses and mainstream Arizonians.

All told the report identifies over 180 votes cast by ASRS over the past two years at the annual shareholder meetings of public companies that push a woke agenda.

Arizona state senator Jake Hoffman told the Daily Caller News Foundation, “That Arizona retirees’ pension funds are being used to promote economically disastrous ESG policies should alarm every single state taxpayer, regardless of political affiliation.”

“Taxpayers entrust ASRS to provide and vigorously advocate for the retirements and other benefits for state employees — not to prioritize woke policies like ‘racial equity’ audits and defunding the American Left’s perceived political adversaries.”

From The Daily Caller:

Critics say that ESG investments are not in the best fiduciary interest of shareholders.

“These documents reveal a dark collusion between state bureaucrats and woke corporations to use state pension funds to further a leftist ideological agenda,” AAF president Thomas Jones told the DCNF. “Not the people of Arizona, nor their representatives in the legislature, ever voted on these issues, yet these forces have taken it upon themselves to impose things like woke racial equity and climate radicalism. It is an outrageous betrayal of the people of Arizona.”

Funds that invest in green energy companies and products globally underwent investment outflows amounting to $4.8 billion in the first quarter of 2024, Reuters reported, citing analysis conducted by LSEG Lipper. The S&P Global Clean Energy Index has plunged by around 7% while the S&P 500 Energy Index, which features many oil and gas companies, is up by over 8% in 2024.

Some states, like Florida and Texas, are removing funds from ESG-focused firms like Blackrock, the world’s largest asset manager, which has thoroughly embraced ESG.

In 2021, William Hild, Executive Director of Consumers’ Research, sent a letter to the governors of the 10 states with the top 10 state pension funds invested with BlackRock with a consumer warning.

Hild wrote, “Later today, Consumers’ Research, the nation’s oldest consumer advocacy organization, will issue a Consumer Warning focused on the world’s largest money management firm, BlackRock. The warning is meant to raise awareness among American consumers that BlackRock is taking their money and betting on China. In so doing they are putting American security at risk, along with billions of dollars from U.S. investors, including many state-run pension plans. I wanted to make sure that you were aware that your state is one of the top ten states whose public pension funds are invested in BlackRock and, therefore, potentially at risk based on the issues we outline in our Consumer Warning.”

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Author: Margaret Flavin