TALLAHASSEE — This time it’s not CRT or BLM, but a new acronym that Gov. Ron DeSantis has put in his crosshairs — ESG, or “environmental, social and governance” policies.
The latest installment of DeSantis’ fight against what he calls “woke” corporations involves an effort to prohibit state investments that use ESG ratings, which can include taking into account impacts of climate change.
The governor made an appearance in Tampa on Wednesday to roll out a plan that would have the State Board of Administration, which oversees investments, direct pension-fund managers against “using political factors when investing the state’s money.”
“We want them (fund managers) to invest the state’s money for the best interests of the beneficiaries of those funds, which is, again, the people that are retired cops and teachers and other public employees,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis has enlisted the aid of incoming House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, in the battle against ESG.
During Wednesday’s event at Harpoon Harry’s, Renner supported DeSantis’ call for action, saying “global elites” are “weaponizing American capitalism against us.”
Renner, who will become House speaker after the November elections, called the corporate practices a national-security issue and a pocketbook issue.
“What we have is these large corporations and banks that are pursuing a woke agenda that is artificially driving up our costs in energy,” Renner said.
ESG practices can involve considering a wide range of issues in investments, such as companies’ climate-change vulnerabilities; carbon emissions; product safety; supply-chain labor standards; privacy and data security; and executive compensation.
The organization DeSantis Watch, a joint project from Florida Watch and Progress Florida that is critical of the governor, issued a statement Wednesday that said DeSantis’ proposal does “the bidding of his large corporate donors and billionaire supporters.”
“Florida is ground zero for the climate crisis, but once again Ron DeSantis lacks the courage to take any real action to protect the livelihoods of the people of our state,” Natasha Sutherland of DeSantis Watch said.
DeSantis, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Attorney General Ashley Moody, who are trustees of the State Board of Administration, are scheduled to meet during an Aug. 23 Cabinet meeting.