BlackRock Larry Fink

BlackRock Used a Red State’s Pension Funds to Push Leftist Lunacy and Suppress Conservatives

DCNF(DCNF)—Asset management giant BlackRock has leveraged Oklahomans’ pension funds to advance a racial and climate agenda since 2022, according to a report from conservative watchdog group American Accountability Foundation (AAF).

Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) enlists the services of BlackRock, which managed around $4.4 billion of the system’s investments as of June 2023, according to its annual financial report. BlackRock voted 54 times to back shareholder proposals “supporting policies such as racial equity audits, gender pay gap reports, efforts to defund conservative candidates and pro-business trade associations, and radical climate policy,” according to AAF, based on documents it obtained through a public records request.

“Oklahomans deserve so much better than to have their retirement savings used as leverage for woke corporate activism,” AAF President Thomas Jones told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “This inappropriate use of public funds jeopardizes the financial security of hardworking Oklahomans who depend on their pensions and endangers the livelihoods of every energy worker in America. These woke bankers and Wall Street elites are using taxpayer dollars to impose a leftist agenda on America, while making a hefty profit for themselves. This information proves once again why BlackRock must be avoided.”

BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager and a proponent of environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing, which emphasizes funding green initiatives to advance climate-focused efforts, such as net-zero emissions as well as social impact efforts. OPERS has more than 72,000 members composed of the state’s public servants, according to the system’s website.

“BlackRock Investment Stewardship’s sole focus when we engage with companies or vote at shareholder meetings is to advance our clients’ financial interests,” the asset management giant told the DCNF.

BlackRock also pointed the DCNF to a report by Committee To Unleash Prosperity that gave the firm a score of 8.9 out of 10 in shareholder voting, noting it is an improvement over its past rating. It also pointed the DCNF to its “2023 global voting spotlight,” which states that BlackRock voted against 93% of climate and social shareholder proposals.

For instance, BlackRock in 2022 leveraged OPERS’ pension funds to vote in favor of a “racial equity audit” resolution at Google’s parent company Alphabet in June 2022, according to the public records AAF obtained.

The Nathan Cummings Foundation, a social justice group, introduced the proposal, which urged a “third-party, independent racial equity audit analyzing Alphabet Inc.’s adverse impacts on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.” The resolution also demanded Alphabet “do more to address significant adverse impacts of its policies, practices, and products on communities of color.”

The asset management giant also used OPERS’ pension funds to support a proposal by As You Sow, a nonprofit that assigns ESG scores to companies, for Berkshire Hathaway to report “if and how” the conglomerate “intends to measure, disclose, and reduce” greenhouse gas emissions.

Another proposal BlackRock backed came from Christian Brothers Investment Services, Inc., “a Catholic, socially responsible investment management firm” at oil and gas firm ExxonMobil. The resolution requests that the company report and evaluate how the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) goal of achieving zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 would impact the company financially, raising concerns that continued fossil fuel development could be negative for the firm.

“ExxonMobil continues development of new fossil fuel resources, even while acknowledging that climate change scenarios pose uncertainties that may lead to impairments,” the proposal states. “Investors are concerned that the continued development of new fossil fuel resources increases the risk of such future impairments. ExxonMobil’s existing, audited annual disclosures do not provide investors with sufficient insight into stranded asset risk related to the energy transition.”

Republicans have significantly scrutinized ESG investing strategies as they allege that the practice breaches financial firms’ fiduciary responsibility by prioritizing social and political issues over profitability.

The state of Oklahoma in 2023 blacklisted 13 financial firms after state Treasurer Todd Russ determined they were boycotting energy companies, as prohibited in the Oklahoma Energy Discrimination Act of 2022. BlackRock is one of the firms on the Restricted Financial Company List, but OPERS exempted BlackRock from the ban for fiduciary reasons, Pensions & Investments reported.

Moreover, an Oklahoma judge in May temporarily blocked the Oklahoma Energy Discrimination Act of 2022 from enforcement, according to court documents.

BlackRock similarly used Nevadans’ pension funds to advance racial equity initiatives and climate-related proposals within publicly traded companies since 2022, the DCNF previously reported, based on another report by AAF.

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said in June that he will not use the term “ESG” anymore, citing the term’s political connotation, according to Axios.

OPERS and Russ did not respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.

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