Exclusive — Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis: We Want ‘Best Return on Investment,’ Not a Political Agenda

Jimmy Patronis
AP Photo/Steve Cannon

Florida’s CFO Jimmy Patronis told Breitbart News he’s looking to give the best “return on investment” for Floridians and the Sunshine State instead of focusing on pushing a political agenda in investing such as environmental, social, and governance (ESG) policies.

“My main goal is just getting the maximum return on investment for the citizens of the state of Florida,” Patronis told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview on Monday when talking about divesting money away from BlackRock — the world’s largest asset manager that has also pushed ESG policies.

“I grew up in the restaurant business. I’m always thinking about promoting business. Just like I would hustle for the restaurant, I’m doing that for the state of Florida. I’m interested and eager to advocate for jobs and capital to come to the state of Florida. But also, you want them to leave the politics behind,” he added.

As Breitbart News has noted in the past, ESG policies are a form of leftist activism in financial investing that has become the latest vector to influence the way Wall Street financial firms and corporations continue to take social and political positions that do not relate to their business, such as stances associated with climate change, as well as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) agenda.

File/Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis delivers remarks before Gov. Ron DeSantis took to the stage during his Don’t Tread on Florida Tour in Sarasota on Nov. 6, ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm election. (Tiffany Tompkins/Bradenton Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Wall Street firms, such as BlackRock and others, sell ESG as a way to invest according to specific criteria that the political left pushes on voters and consumers.

Over the last several months, Florida has been one of the Republican-dominated state governments that have taken a strong aim at “woke” asset managers and the leftist ESG policy movement in the financial sector.

In December, Patronis announced that Florida would start pulling $2 billion in assets away from BlackRock due to the state’s opposition to the company’s major push into ESG policies, the most significant anti-ESG divestment to date.

Then, in January, he also signed a directive that blocked asset managers from investing $5.1 billion of state pension pool from being invested in financial products associated with ESG standards.

Regarding pulling out the funds from BlackRock, he told Breitbart News that he “didn’t expect to hear that much enthusiasm,” but his phone was ringing off the hook from people telling him he was “bringing some common sense to the madness.” He added, “we’ve been boiled like a frog, and it’s just time for us to hop out of this mess.”

When asked if he agrees that BlackRock, State Street, Vanguard, and other money managers are not following their fiduciary duty and instead focusing on a political agenda when they push the leftist ESG movement, he said, “exactly.”

Then specifically targeting BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, he added, “If the Larry Finks of the world want to change the world…Go put your name on the ballot [and] go do it with your money, but you’re not going to do with the state of Florida’s money anymore.”

“I’ve got to be looking at the best return on investment, and in a rising interest rate economy, and a rising inflation environment. I’ve gotta be thinking about the business. Bottom line of the state of Florida and [BlackRock’s] philosophies, just don’t compliment, you know, somebody who’s trying to run a business and survive during challenging financial times,” Patronis added.

“We’re getting into BlackRock’s pocketbook,” Florida’s CFO said when referring to his dad telling him in the restaurant business, if you want to get someone’s attention, to get into their pocketbook. “We’re not going to do business [with BlackRock]… If you want to go and change your philosophy, you want to go change leadership. If you want to prove to us that you truly care about the bottom line, then… I’m willing to talk. [But,] for right now, your business philosophy does not complement the direction that Florida needs to go right now.”

Jacob Bliss is a reporter for Breitbart News. Write to him at jbliss@breitbart.com or follow him on Twitter @JacobMBliss.


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