TOPEKA – (August 8, 2022) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt last week asked one of the nation’s largest investment firms to clarify its priorities and ensure that investor money is not being used to further the firm’s political agenda related to energy policy.
In a letter to Laurence Fink, CEO of BlackRock, Inc., Schmidt, along with 18 other state attorneys general, expressed concerns that the company’s conflicting statements regarding its investment policies are at odds with its fiduciary responsibility to seek returns for investors. BlackRock manages investments for several state pension funds, including a portion of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS) portfolio.
“BlackRock’s past public commitments indicate that it has used citizens’ assets to pressure companies to comply with international agreements such as the Paris Agreement that force the phase-out of fossil fuels, increase energy prices, drive inflation, and weaken the national security of the United States,” the attorneys general wrote. “Accelerating and delivering the goals of the Paris Agreement across all assets under management through an escalation and voting strategy is a far cry from neutrality. Rather than being a spectator betting on the game, BlackRock appears to have put on a quarterback jersey and actively taken the field.”
The attorneys general state that BlackRock’s actions in this area may violate multiple state laws.
“Our states will not idly stand for our pensioners’ retirements to be sacrificed for BlackRock’s climate agenda,” they wrote. “The time has come for BlackRock to come clean on whether it actually values our states’ most valuable stakeholders, our current and future retirees, or risk losses even more significant than those caused by BlackRock’s quixotic climate agenda.”
The Legislature this year appropriated more than $1.1 billion in additional payments to KPERS. Schmidt said determining BlackRock’s actual position on investing priorities will help to ensure these funds are invested wisely to maximize returns – not used to support political priorities.
A copy of the letter is available at https://bit.ly/3JBIOMP.