MidPoint: DeSantis’ “Anti-Woke” Investments of State Funds

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Republicans Refuse to Divest from Russian Investments

Since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, our guest on MidPoint, State Rep. Andrew Learned, has been leading the charge to have Florida divest State pension funds from Russian investments, some of which are directly supplying weapons, supplies, and fuel to the Russian military. DeSantis and the Republican-controlled Legislature have refused to divest from Russia, and so far, the State’s Russian pension investments have lost about 90% of their value. Rep. Learned discussed the hypocrisy of the Republican-controlled legislature that was initially supportive of bipartisan legislation to divest from Russia, but then backed off that support when it was not endorsed by Gov. DeSantis. Though Republican legislators supported divestment from Venezuela on political grounds, Florida’s investments in Russia have continued to increase since the war of aggression against Ukraine.

New “Anti-Woke” Investment Policies Cloud Management of State Funds

In his continuing campaign to “Kill the Woke,” on Tuesday last week, DeSantis announced a new investment policy meant to divest from and avoid any new Florida investments in any companies or funds that adopt Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles. Florida will no longer consider using issues like consideration of climate change or racial justice awareness to influence Florida’s investments by rating a company’s values. Adam Hattersley, the Democratic candidate for Florida Chief Financial Officer, was also with us on MidPoint to discuss this new policy and how it may impact Florida’s finances and pensioners’ retirements.

The new rules require that the State Board of Administration which administers invests, and manages the Florida Retirement System Trust Fund, the Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, as well as the assets of a variety of other funds, to make investment decisions based only on economic factors, without regard to ESG values which the Governor has labeled as “political factors.” Current Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis has adopted DeSantis’ position and vowed to engage the Office of Business Regulation to conduct an audit of property and casualty insurance companies doing business in Florida to determine if they are adhering to the banned ESG principles as well. Democratic CFO candidate Adam Hattersley who is running to take Patronis’ job, discussed with WMNF how a Democratic Cabinet member in a Republican-controlled administration could help provide some balance as the State considers its investment policies. He reminded listeners that we have a property insurance crisis in Florida and “the last thing we need” now is to drive any more companies out of doing business in Florida. Hattersley also suggested that all investment decisions are inherently political to some degree, and the Governor’s “Stop Woke” campaign is nothing more than slogans for political theater designed to activate his political base as we approach the election in November. He reminded listeners that the job of the CFO and the State Board of Administration is to act as fiduciaries to protect the state’s assets and the retirement funds of state employees.

Listen to the full show here.

Republican Danny Alvarez who is running to oppose Andrew Learned’s re-election in State House District 69 was invited to appear on the show but failed to respond. Likewise, current Chief Financial Officer, Republican Jimmy Patronis who is running for reelection against Adam Hattersley was also invited to be a guest on this show but he too failed to respond.

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