Lawmakers in Texas scheduled a hearing for next week with asset management companies over alleged mismanagement of taxpayer dollars driven by ideological motives.
The Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs requested documents from BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street, and Institutional Shareholder Services relevant to the firms’ promotion of the environmental, social, and governance movement, also known as ESG, four months ago. Hearings will begin on December 15 in the city of Marshall, Texas.
“The Committee needs these documents to uncover the extent to which these firms have been playing politics using Texans’ hard earned money,” State Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-TX) said in a statement provided to The Daily Wire. “Next week we will hold a hearing where each firm will appear and give account to the people of Texas.”
Officials recently warned BlackRock that efforts related to the company’s promotion of causes such as emissions reduction violate state laws mandating a sole focus on financial returns among all fiduciaries. Texas also announced that BlackRock and nine other firms had broken the law by “refusing to deal with” companies involved in the production and use of fossil fuels “without an ordinary business purpose.”
Hughes added that some firms have produced more documents than others, noting that BlackRock in particular “has refused to provide documents it considers internal or confidential,” leading lawmakers to issue a subpoena. “We will not allow these firms to continue to use Texans’ money to force a narrow political agenda,” he continued. “They have a legal duty to put their investors’ interests first, and we intend to make sure they do.”
The subpoena, provided to The Daily Wire, emphasized BlackRock’s support of global climate initiatives such as the Net-Zero Banking Allowance and the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, which are intended to “use any part of the financial system to reduce or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions or otherwise pursue environmental goals.”
BlackRock has taken “voting action on climate issues” against dozens of its portfolio companies, according to an investment stewardship report published two years ago, prompting state-level officials across the country to note that such activism may work against their economies and raise nationwide energy prices.
A number of Republican state governments have recently pulled funds from prominent asset managers over concerns that the companies’ voting priorities constitute a drift away from the sole pursuit of maximal returns. In addition to divestments from South Carolina, Louisiana, Missouri, West Virginia, and Utah, the state of Florida announced plans last week to remove $2 billion from BlackRock by the beginning of next year.
As the moves from conservative state policymakers and broader concerns from the marketplace make headlines, BlackRock CEO Fink recently announced that institutional clients would be able to vote their own shares rather than allow the company to act as a proxy.
“We are witnessing a reckoning for these asset management firms that have until recently thought they could take hardworking Americans’ money and use it to drive their progressive agenda,” Consumers’ Research Executive Director Will Hild remarked in a statement provided to The Daily Wire. “This action from Texas will uncover much of what these firms have tried to hide — their agenda is driven by politics, not profits.”
At the federal level, however, the Labor Department introduced measures to undo a ban on ESG investments previously instituted by former President Donald Trump. The agency published a final rule last month that reflected a directive from President Joe Biden to safeguard the economy from “climate-related financial risk that may threaten the life savings and pensions of America’s workers and families.” Fiduciaries will be permitted to consider “the economic effects of climate change and other ESG considerations” as long as such factors are salient within risk-and-return analyses.