US State Treasurers and NYC Comptroller Respond to Anti-ESG Efforts

Letter criticizes short-term thinking that ‘imposes an ideological screen on an investment manager’s ability.’

A group composed of 13 state treasurers and the New York City comptroller has released an open letter denouncing as shortsighted the blacklisting of certain asset managers by other states that oppose environmental, social and governance-based investing.

“Blacklists are a backlash response on behalf of political and corporate interests seeking to interfere with the progress made by those of us who believe in collaboration and engagement. We work towards developing common goals, along with other investors and enlightened companies throughout the world,” wrote the group in a letter posted to the website For the Long Term. “The blacklisting states apparently believe, despite ample evidence and scientific consensus to the contrary, that poor working conditions, unfair compensation, discrimination and harassment, and even poor governance practices do not represent material threats to the companies in which they invest. They refuse to acknowledge, in the face of sweltering heat, floods, tornadoes, snowstorms and other extreme weather, that climate change is real and is a true business threat to all of us. We disagree.”

States including Texas, West Virginia and Florida have recently passed laws that prohibit the investment of public funds or conducting of state business with financial firms, including asset managers, that are involved in net-zero climate campaigns or that have adopted other ESG investment principles. In August, 19 state attorneys general wrote to BlackRock accusing the firm of violating its fiduciary duty to its investors by investing according to ESG principles.

The state treasurers and comptroller’s letter says disclosure, transparency and accountability by investors make companies “more resilient by sharpening how they manage, ensuring that they are appropriately planning for the future.”

The group said that their work, “alongside those of other investors, employees, and customers,” has “caused many companies to evolve their business models and their internal processes, better addressing the long term material risks that threaten their performance.”

The following officials signed the statement:

Maine Treasurer Henry E. M. Beck, Nevada Treasurer Zach Conine, Delaware Treasurer Colleen C. Davis, New Mexico Treasurer Tim Eichenberg, Illinois Treasurer Michael W. Frerichs, Wisconsin Treasurer Sarah A. Godlewski, Massachusetts Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg, New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, California Treasurer Fiona Ma, Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Vermont Treasurer Beth Pearce, Washington State Treasurer Michael J. Pellicciotti, Oregon Treasurer Tobias Read and Colorado Treasurer David L. Young.

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