Kentucky Officials Demand Proof That State Pension Funds Aren’t Used For Woke Investing

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Jack McEvoy Energy & Environment Reporter
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Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and State Treasurer Allison Ball are calling on the state’s Public Pension Authority and Teachers’ Retirement System to provide proof that it is preventing entities from investment of pension funds to promote environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) agendas, according to a letter sent on Oct. 31.

Cameron and Ball wrote that ESG investing is illegal as it violates “statutory and contractual fiduciary duties” by trying to “force social change” instead of solely pursuing profits. The state officials asked the pension authority and teachers’ retirement fund to prove that it is actively preventing ESG investing and said that the authority had until Nov. 23 to respond to their request, according to the letter. (RELATED: ‘Massive Fiduciary Breach’: Missouri Withdraws Half A Billion Worth Of Pension Funds From BlackRock’s Control)

“Prioritizing ESG-related investments above the financial interests of investors is inconsistent with Kentucky law, and we’ve sent this letter to ensure these practices are not at work in the Commonwealth,” Cameron said in a statement.

Cameron and Ball further stated that “political agendas” have no place in citizens’ retirement funds, according to the letter. The pension authority and the teachers’ retirement system manage a combined $66 billion worth of public retirement funds.

The inquiry into Kentucky’s pension fund comes after Cameron found in May that investment managers must exclusively work to make profits for their stakeholders, according to an official opinion he produced. Therefore, unless one can prove that investments were made with only profits in mind, politically motivated investing is illegal in Kentucky.

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY – APRIL 07: Allison Ball, Kentucky State Treasurer, State of Kentucky speaks onstage during the 2022 Concordia Lexington Summit – Day 1 at Lexington Marriott City Center on April 07, 2022 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images for Concordia)

Republican attorneys general and treasurers have pushed back against ESG investing that has been promoted by large asset managers like BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street and other financial institutions. Missouri State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick announced on Oct. 18 that his state would take its retirement portfolio out of BlackRock’s hands as the company is using its control of pension funds to push a “left-wing” agenda, according to a press release.

In August, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmidt and 18 other Republican attorneys general alleged that the company used funds to pressure companies to phase-out fossil fuels and comply with its climate agenda instead of making money for its clients. However, BlackRock denied these allegations and claimed that considering “climate risks” are an important part of long-term investment strategies, according to a response letter.

“Kentuckians worked hard for decades to earn their pensions and rely on them for livelihood in retirement,” Ball said in a statement. “It is important their investments are maximized, not politicized.”

The Kentucky Public Pension Authority and Cameron’s office did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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