“NONE OF IT IS OUR MONEY” Leftist activists & liberal insiders using YOUR money to advance THEIR political agenda
An American Accountability Foundation Investigative Report — August 9, 2022 — Prepared by AAF’s Research Team
This is a a FREE 47 page PDF document downloadable at the link above which exposes way in which BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street staffers enforce ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) policy at American public companies.
ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) investing is becoming increasingly popular on Wall Street, and particularly so with the “Big Three” asset management firms BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street. While these firms maintain that ESG standards are to protect investor capital, it instead seems that liberal fund managers are using it to advance their own political agendas. The “Big Three” manage $22 trillion1 in assets and control about 80% of all passive index investments. On average, the “Big Three” combined own about 22% of the shares of a typical S&P 500 company.
Ultimately, the $22 trillion that the “Big Three” control is not their money, but the money of their clients. Clients include pension funds and institutions, as well as ordinary individual investors that may invest in 401(k)s, IRAs, and brokerage accounts through many of the Big Three’s popular fund offerings. Indeed, even BlackRock CEO Larry Fink acknowledged that “none of it is our money” in a recent interview on CNBC, inspiring the title of this report.
While none of it may be “their money,” the “Big Three” use the money that they manage to wield enormous influence at the public companies their funds invest in. BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street each have “stewardship” teams responsible for day-to-day proxy voting and shareholder engagement with the management and boards of portfolio companies. Given the recent rise in the popularity of ESG issues, these “stewardship” teams are leveraging their clients’ money to push for radical environmental and social changes at portfolio companies.
Environmental issues in particular have become important to these asset managers. All three of BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street are signatories to the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative – which requires signers to commit to an investment strategy aligned with achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
While much has been made about Larry Fink’s political leanings and push for woke “stakeholder capitalism,” comparatively little research has been done on the junior and mid-level stewardship staff that spend their days pushing the implementation of the ESG agenda at portfolio companies. In this report, we take a look at who the members of these “stewardship” teams are. Unsurprisingly, many of these stewardship and ESG staffers at the “Big Three” come from a political or activist background, or otherwise have problematic liberal political leanings.
In effect, these liberal stewardship and ESG staffers at BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street seem to have burrowed themselves into these gigantic financial firms and have perfected an extra-governmental method for enforcing their climate and social agendas at portfolio companies. These staff are using the influence of their clients’ money to vote on proxies and pressure company management. Remember, none of it is their money.
A New Revolving Door?
Along those same lines, the number of liberal staffers that are now serving in influential roles in financial firms raises the question – has a new “revolving door” come to Washington? While traditionally DC staffers will go from official positions to K Street – there now seems to be a new trend emerging of DC staffers going from official positions to Wall Street. Several of the individuals we identified in this report are alums of the Obama Administration now working in stewardship or ESG roles. And of course, President Biden’s Director of the National Economic Council (and recession denier), Brian Deese, has made the DC to Wall Street to DC revolving door round trip. Deese left the Obama Administration to work as Global Head of Sustainable Investing at BlackRock before returning to DC to join the Biden Administration.
The concerning development of this DC to Wall Street pipeline by DC liberals should become a priority of the conservative movement to counter on both a messaging level and a personnel level. The issue is problematic both because liberals are using Wall Street as a tool to subsidize and incentivize their political agenda, but also because it fundamentally erodes the traditional role of asset managers, which is to seek the highest return for their client. There are serious questions if the activism of many of the individuals outlined below serves as evidence of a violation of their fiduciary duties to their clients.
Definitely worth the read for those interested in tracking the Woke Wickedness metastasizing in our country.
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