Missouri Latest State to Divest from BlackRock Over ‘Woke Political Agenda’

By Katie Spence
Katie Spence
Katie Spence
Katie Spence covers various topics, focusing mainly on energy and politics for The Epoch Times. She has also covered medical industry censorship and collusion with government. Before starting her career as a journalist, Katie proudly served in the Air Force as an Airborne Operations Technician on JSTARS. She can be reached at: katie.spence@epochtimes.us
October 18, 2022Updated: October 20, 2022

Missouri plans to remove $500 million of its pension fund investments from BlackRock, making it the latest state to divest from the world’s largest asset manager in response to the company’s overt leftist agenda.

State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick announced the plans on Oct. 18.

The realignment followed Louisiana’s Oct. 5 announcement on its pending removal of $794 million from BlackRock, and divestments of $100 million and $125 million by Utah and Arkansas, respectively.

The withdrawals result from BlackRock’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives and its prioritization of a “woke political agenda.”

“We should not allow asset managers such as BlackRock, who have demonstrated that they will prioritize advancing a woke political agenda above the financial interests of their customers, to continue speaking on behalf of the state of Missouri,” Fitzpatrick told Fox Business.

Fitzpatrick’s statement echoes Louisiana Treasurer John Schroder, who stated in an Oct. 5 letter to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, “Your blatantly anti-fossil fuel policies would destroy Louisiana’s economy. … We cannot be party to the crippling of our own economy.”

Larry Fink
BlackRock CEO Larry Fink attends a session at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos on Jan. 23, 2020. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)

Republican States Say ‘Enough’

Over the past few years, BlackRock’s CEO has pursued an aggressive agenda focusing on shaping society to meet a specific political agenda.

In his 2022 letter to CEOs, Fink stated that “capitalism has the power to shape society and act as a powerful catalyst for change” and “when we harness the power of both the public and private sectors, we can achieve truly incredible things. This is what we must do to get to net zero.”

In his 2020 letter to CEOs, Fink wrote that BlackRock would significantly reallocate its capital from “investments that present a high sustainability-related risk, such as thermal coal producers,” and screen against investing in other fossil fuels. He then added a warning to CEOs.

“Last year, BlackRock voted against or withheld votes from 4,800 directors at 2,700 different companies. Where we feel companies and boards are not producing effective sustainability disclosures or implementing frameworks for managing these issues, we will hold board members accountable,” Fink wrote.

Fink and BlackRock are now facing their playbook as Republican-led states move to withdraw capital to achieve an objective—a retraction from BlackRock’s focus on ESG initiatives and promotion of a “woke agenda.”

Fitzpatrick accused BlackRock of breaching its fiduciary duty.

“Fiduciary duty must remain the top priority for investment managers—a duty some of them have abdicated in favor of forcing a left-wing social and political agenda that has failed to succeed legislatively, on publicly traded companies,” Fitzpatrick wrote.

Epoch Times Photo
Wind turbines in Papalote, Texas, on June 15, 2021. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Steve Milloy, founder of Junk Science, backed Missouri’s move.

“Red states have now pulled over $3.2 billion from BlackRock over the ESG scam: West Virginia, $1.5 billion, Louisiana, $800 million, Missouri, $500 million, South Carolina, $200 million, Arkansas, $125 million, Utah, $100 million. More coming!” he wrote on Twitter.

On Oct. 12, UBS analyst Brennan Hawken downgraded BlackRock’s stock to “neutral”  from “buy,” stating that BlackRock’s ESG focus had become increasingly risky.

“BlackRock has built its business on providing our clients choices to reflect their unique goals and preferences. While the actions of some elected officials have attracted media headlines, they do not reflect the totality of our clients’ investment decisions,” a BlackRock spokesperson told The Epoch Times.

“For example, clients have awarded BlackRock $248 billion of net new long-term assets this year, including $84 billion in the third quarter in the United States alone. We remain committed to offering our clients choice and delivering them the best financial outcomes consistent with their preferences.”

In response to mounting criticism, BlackRock rolled out a new webpage on Oct. 7, stating, “We’re setting the record straight about our focus on energy investing, our responsibilities to clients and how we consider climate risk.”

“Our clients have a wide range of views and goals and that’s why we offer clients a broad choice of investment products. … The choice of where to invest ultimately rests with our clients. We are bound to adhere to their investment guidelines and objectives. We do not dictate particular investment strategies,” the BlackRock webpage states.

“BlackRock has been accused of ‘boycotting’ energy companies. Quite the opposite: BlackRock’s clients are some of the largest investors in the energy industry. In the U.S. alone, we have invested $170 billion on behalf of our clients in American energy companies, including pipelines and power generation facilities.”

Still, BlackRock’s “Net zero: a fiduciary approach” states, “BlackRock is committed to supporting the goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner” and has undertaken several “key actions” to help further that transition. That includes prompting companies to “disclose a plan for how their business model will be compatible with a net zero economy” and how each company will improve its “long-term plans to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion, as appropriate by region.”

Katie Spence covers various topics, focusing mainly on energy and politics for The Epoch Times. She has also covered medical industry censorship and collusion with government. Before starting her career as a journalist, Katie proudly served in the Air Force as an Airborne Operations Technician on JSTARS. She can be reached at: katie.spence@epochtimes.us