North Carolina Treasurer Dale Folwell sent a bombshell letter to asset manager BlackRock, saying its CEO, Larry Fink, needs to “resign or be removed” from the firm’s leadership team “immediately” over his obsession with pursuing a leftist “political agenda.”
Folwell is the first state treasurer to call for Fink to “resign or be removed,” while others have withdrawn their state’s proxy votes and divested state funds from BlackRock.
As North Carolina’s “sole fiduciary,” Folwell said in the letter that he is “skeptical” Fink “would or could lead the necessary course correction” and has lost confidence in his leadership due to Fink’s driving environmental, social, and governance (ESG) policies.
“Larry Fink’s pursuit of a political agenda has gotten in the way of BlackRock’s same fiduciary duty. A focus on ESG is not a focus on returns and potentially could force us to violate our own fiduciary duty,” he wrote in the letter. “There is no blue money or red money at the treasurer’s office, only green.”
“BlackRock needs to be totally focused on returns for their clients, not on the political effort to ‘transform’ the economy to your vision of carbon zero. Fossil fuels will be the engine that drives the world’s economy for the foreseeable future,” he wrote. “The only way that I can see BlackRock refocusing on its fiduciary duty to its clients is for a change at the top.”
Folwell says he wrote this on behalf of North Carolinians and especially the North Carolina Retirement Systems (NCRS), which is one of the country’s largest public pension plans, because he wants to ensure that the retirement benefits and savings for over a million people –“approximately $14 billion invested through BlackRock in various active and passive funds, in addition to around $55 million passively invested in BlackRock stocks or bonds” — are being appropriately managed.
Unfortunately, Larry Fink’s pursuit of a political agenda has gotten in the way of BlackRock’s same fiduciary duty. A focus on ESG is not a focus on returns and potentially could force us to violate our own fiduciary duty. Ultimately, Fink’s continued ideological pressure could result in using ESG scores against states and local governments, lowering their credit ratings and thus driving up their cost of borrowing at taxpayers’ expense. This not only concerns me as the State Treasurer but as Chair of the North Carolina State Banking Commission and the Local Government Commission.
At Larry Fink’s direction, BlackRock has used the financial power of its clients to force the global warming agenda, using proxy voting authority to push companies to “net zero,” often in conflict with its fiduciary responsibilities. For example, in 2020 he used BlackRock’s clients’ votes against two management-supported board members of ExxonMobil because of “insignificant progress” towards green energy. Yet, ExxonMobil stock rose 60% in the 12 months since the board member election because of an increase in the demand for oil. Berkshire Hathaway’s Charlie Munger had it right when he said we don’t need “emperors” voting shares in index funds based on their social agendas.
With that in mind, I recently signed an agreement that enables NCRS to vote its shares managed by BlackRock. I recognize that you implemented a proxy voting system last year that allows investors in certain pooled vehicles to have some degree of control over their voting. However, the existence of the proxy voting program does not mitigate the need for a new direction at BlackRock.
As mentioned, more Republicans across the United States have started to take aim at BlackRock for its ESG policies. Multiple Republican-led states across the United States have begun pulling money they have invested out of BlackRock due to its leftist activism in financial investing.
Additionally, state treasurers from multiple states attended the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF) conference last month, where many from across the country presented a strategy against ESG policies. The group launched a website and a video explainer, hoping to educate Americans on the dangers of ESG policies.
At the conference, multiple state treasurers explained to Breitbart News that ESG policies hurt each state differently, but collectively hurt all American taxpayers financially. Hence, they came together in a joint effort to combat the left-wing policies masquerading as economics.