EXCLUSIVE: Watchdog Warns About ‘Weaponization’ Of Red State’s Pension Funds For Leftist Causes

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Oklahoma public retirement funds are being “weaponized” to back decarbonization, racial audits, and push pro-abortion policies, according to a new watchdog report shared exclusively with The Daily Wire.

The report, from the American Accountability Foundation, found that three asset managers used by the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) have used money from state retirement accounts to support shareholder proposals rooted in woke politics and environmental, social, and governance principles. According to the report, three firms — State Street Global Advisors, Newton Capital Management, and Westfield Capital Management — have used some of the $1.7 billion they manage for OPERS’ portfolio to support at least 216 ESG-tinged proposals that take aim at the oil industry and push leftist social values.

The AAF obtained data on all proxy votes cast by asset managers for Oklahoma’s public retirement funds since 2022 through an open records request. “Altogether, we identified 216 votes in support of troubling policies, including racial equity audits, gender pay gap reports, initiatives to silence conservatives and trade associations, abortion rights, and the radical climate agenda,” the watchdog wrote in a memo shared with The Daily Wire.

The memo comes as Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R) and Oklahoma Treasurer Todd Russ have spoken out against ESG investing, calling the push harmful to the state. OPERS did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Wire.

State Street, alongside BlackRock, were both supposed to be dropped by OPERS because of new legislation restricting state entities from working with companies that are opposed to the oil and gas industry, but were exempted after a vote from the board of OPERS.

In the last two years, State Street, Newton, and Westfield all backed resolutions that “call for increased climate disclosures or greenhouse gas emissions targets,” according to the AAF. For example, Newton backed a proposal for energy company Phillips 66 to adopt greenhouse gas “emissions reduction targets aligned with the Paris Agreement goal” at the company’s May 2022 shareholder meeting.

“We therefore support the Company to set emission reduction targets for all emissions: the emissions of the company’s operations and the emissions of its energy products (Scope 1, 2, and 3). Reducing Scope 3 emissions, the vast majority, is essential to limiting global heating,” the resolution said.

In another instance, Newton voted to back a proposal for Wells Fargo to conduct a racial equity audit, according to the data shared with The Daily Wire.

Citing the death of George Floyd and “systematic racism,” the resolution urged the bank’s board of directors “to oversee an independent racial equity audit analyzing WFC’s adverse impacts on nonwhite stakeholders and communities of color.”

In a supporting statement, the resolution objected to $135,000 in Wells Fargo political donations going to “members of Congress who objected to certifying the election results.”

In another example from June 5, 2023, Westfield voted in support of a resolution saying that UnitedHealth Group should create a “report on congruency of political spending with company values and priorities.” The reason the report was needed was because of employee PAC donations to politicians “working to weaken abortion access” and backing of “state attorneys general seeking to revoke LGBTQ civil rights.”


A similar resolution backed by Newton said that Coke’s diversity, equity, and inclusion policies may be hampered because of a Georgia law protecting unborn children six weeks into development. The resolution asked for a report “detailing any known and potential risks or costs to the company caused by enacted or proposed state policies severely restricting reproductive rights.”

Tom Jones, the president of the AAF, told The Daily Wire that the will of Oklahomans was being subverted by the use of OPERS funds to push ESG initiatives.

“For Oklahoma’s pension funds to be hijacked to push ESG nonsense is an affront to democracy,” Jones said. “The American people should decide our laws, not be dictated to by virtue-signaling corporations and government bureaucrats. Americans never voted to force businesses to conduct ‘racial equity audits’ or to shut down oil and gas companies, yet that is what is being imposed on us by OPERS and the corporate advisers they hire. It’s time to put an end to this madness.”

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  EXCLUSIVE: Watchdog Warns About ‘Weaponization’ Of Red State’s Pension Funds For Leftist Causes