Amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried penned a letter to the three other members of Florida’s Cabinet — Governor Ron DeSantis, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, and Attorney General Ashley Moody — urging them to divest from Russian-backed entities within the state.
The Sunshine State, and the Miami region, in particular, is well-known to be a hub for foreign Russian investment sectors like real estate and finance. Fried urges that the Cabinet prevent Florida’s financial activity from, directly or indirectly, aiding Russia as it wages unprovoked war against Ukraine. Fried seeks to review state purchases and investments, including investments with any company or institution that is on a list of Russian headquartered entities.
Several states including New York and Colorado have already taken action similar to what Fried recommends.
“As trustees of the Florida State Board of Administration, I am writing today to urge you to divest Florida from Russian-backed entities in response to the invasion of Ukraine,” said Fried in her letter. “We must unite as a state, nation, and global community to condemn these actions of war from Vladimir Putin and Russia, and we must send a strong message that we will not allow aggression against democracy anywhere. Our state should immediately begin to cancel state contracts with Russian businesses and divest from Russian firms and other entities that have business ties to the country.”
Florida has $300 million in holdings in "Russian domiciled investments" out of $195 billion in assets, according to the State Board of Administration, which manages state retirement funds.
— Skyler Swisher (@SkylerSwisher) February 28, 2022
Russia and its oligarchs have faced a litany of financial sanctions as it continues pressing into Ukraine, both internationally, domestically, and statewide, as lawmakers in Miami and Sunny Isles, where roughly 8 percent of the population speak Russian as a first language, deliberate on freezing or even seizing property assets.
“It is imperative that we not only speak out against these attacks on democracy but that we ensure Florida taxpayer dollars are not propping up the autocratic regime in Russia,” concluded Fried.
Jacksonville stands with Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/9hVwlj8PaQ
— Travis Akers (@travisakers) February 27, 2022
“There is a flurry of action by the federal government taking place with respect to Ukraine and the SBA is keeping the Trustees updated on how sanctions against Russia may affect any investments. The CFO believes that Putin is an evil dictator and that he will reap what he sows,” said Frank Collins III of Patronis’ office. “The CFO also believes that when buildings are being bombed, families are being killed, the international geopolitical order is being disrupted, and a humanitarian crisis is unfolding before our very eyes, now may not be the right time for clever hot takes.
DeSantis has been particularly quiet on the Ukraine situation since the onset of the invasion, giving no statement on the matter. Both Floridian Senators, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, have both spoken out against Russia’s militant occupation.