Exclusive — Heritage Action, Hoosier Conservative Call on Lawmakers to Pass Anti-ESG Bill

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Heritage Action Executive Director Jessica Anderson and Indiana state Rep. Ethan Manning (R) called on lawmakers to pass legislation that would ensure those managing Indiana’s pension fund would not promote Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing.

The conservative leaders spoke in favor of Indiana House Bill 1008, sponsored by Manning, and coauthored by state Reps. Mike Speedy (R) and Shane Lindauer (R), which would:

  • Clarify that the fiduciary duty of those managing Indiana’s pension fund, Indiana Public Retirement System (INPRS), is to consider only financial factors, not commitments toward ESG goals
  • Benefit Indiana pensioners by shifting assets towards asset managers that are focused solely on financial purposes
  • Ensure Indiana’s shares are voted according to Hoosier values by requiring that the shares for Indiana’s pension investment be voted only in the financial interest of the plan participants

An Indiana state House committee advanced the bill out of committee; however, it has met opposition from those who say it is “anti-free market” or would introduce burdensome paperwork for the state pension system. Heritage Action has fact-checked many of the criticisms of the bill.

Manning explained that politicized asset managers are now working behind the scenes, threatening not to work with INPRS.

He outlined in a written statement to Breitbart News:

HB 1008 is and has always been a common-sense solution to ensuring Indiana’s pensions are invested and shares voted according to financial reasons only, not to advance a political agenda. What we are now seeing are the asset managers operating behind the scenes to try and threaten to not do business with INPRS if they are forced to prioritize financial criteria and uphold their fiduciary responsibility. Their threats alone prove that there is a clear problem with asset managers pushing a political agenda and that HB 1008 will be an effective solution to protect Hoosier investments.

ESG has become the latest vector through which Wall Street asset managers such as BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street, Baillie Gifford & Company, and others push companies to adopt leftist policies they otherwise would not back. Asset managers often push companies to adopt anti-climate change policies, diversity requirements, and other policies advocating for racial justice. In this case, BlackRock and Baillie Gifford & Company are two of the public equity managers of the Hoosier pension system.

Anderson said in a statement to Breitbart News, “It is clear that BlackRock is voting Indiana’s shares against Hoosiers’ interests, but now the opposition to HB 1008 wants to let money managers continue violating their fiduciary responsibility. Conservatives in the Indiana General Assembly must not cave and must continue fighting against the ESG policies that threaten Indiana retirees and jeopardize job-creators in the state.”

The same sentiments are shared elsewhere by other ESG opponents.

BlackRock, Baillie Gifford, and other asset managers have used their proxy voting authority, as large holders of many companies’ stock, to push leftist values. Here are some of BlackRock and Baillie Gifford’s most egregious proxy votes:

  • In April 2021, BlackRock, which owns 7.5 percent of Abbott Labs, pushed the company to publish a report to disclose the company’s plan to promote racial justice. BlackRock pushed for the move against the wishes of Abbott’s leadership.
    • In a comment about its vote for the proposal, BlackRock commented, “We recognize the Company’s efforts to date, but believe that supporting the proposal may accelerate company’s progress on material social issues.”
  • In May 2021, BlackRock urged United Parcel Services (UPS), of which Blackrock owns 7.3 percent, to issue a report on how the company plans to reduce emissions in alignment with the Paris Agreement’s goal of reducing global temperatures by at or below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
    • BlackRock voted for this proposal, commenting, We are supportive of the company’s efforts to date with respect to this material climate issue but believe that voting in favor may accelerate the company’s progress.”
  • In May 2022, Blackrock, which owns 6.8 percent of Home Depot, pushed the company to adopt a shareholder proposal to “oversee an independent racial equity audit analyzing Home Depot’s adverse impacts on nonwhite stakeholders and communities of color. Input from civil rights organizations, employees, and customers should be considered in determining the specific matters to be analyzed.”
    • BlackRock commented, “We believe it is in the best interests of shareholders to have access to greater disclosure on this issue.”

Anderson concluded her statement, saying, “Grassroots Americans understand that ESG policies are part of the Left’s broader attempt to force their political agenda on the American people, and they will be watching how their state and federal lawmakers protect their investments and hold woke asset managers accountable.”

Sean Moran is a policy reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.


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