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This week in responsible investing, a conservative group with deep ties to Leonard Leo and the Koch network launched a new, anti-ESG arm, California companies called on Governor Gavin Newsom to fully fund the state’s climate risk disclosure rule, and more. 

Major financial institutions are going forward with responsible investing despite attacks on ESG.

From UAF’s roundup: Despite a systematic, well-funded wave of attacks against ESG at the state and federal levels in recent years, some of America’s largest financial institutions continue to move ahead on their responsible investing strategies. While banks and asset managers may appease self-serving lawmakers in the pockets of Big Oil by pointing to their support for the energy industry, behind the scenes they are sticking to their fiduciary duties and continuing to engage in responsible investing. Why? Research continues to show that sustainable funds have comparable, if not better, financial returns to traditional funds with less downside risk, with nearly 80% of impact investors reporting that their financial performance meets or exceeds their targets. 

The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Democratic state attorneys general could defend the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s climate risk disclosure rule against legal attacks.

From Reuters’ reporting on the ruling: “A US appeals court on Monday ruled that 19 Democratic attorneys general can defend a new Biden administration rule that would require public companies to report climate-related risks against legal challenges by Republican-led states and industry groups. The St. Louis-based 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the group, led by the attorneys general for Massachusetts and the District of Columbia, to intervene in consolidated litigation that seeks to block the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s March regulations.”

California companies called on Governor Newsom and the state assembly to fully fund the state’s climate risk disclosure rule.

From Politico’s California Climate newsletter: Their Monday letter, organized by sustainability nonprofit Ceres and shared first with POLITICO, comes as state lawmakers face a May 14 deadline for budget revisions. Newsom didn’t provide funding in his January budget proposal for the California Air Resources Board to implement SB 253 and SB 261, which go beyond federal rules by requiring all large companies operating in the state to disclose their full carbon footprint and climate-related financial risks.”

Billionaire Harlan Crow drafted an op-ed blasting responsible investing while reaping the rewards of an ESG strategy at his own holding firm. 

From UAF’s release: Reality: Harlan Crow reaps the benefits of responsible investing he purports to oppose. Crow Holdings, of which Harlan Crow is Chairman of the Board, has repeatedly touted its ‘responsible’ approach to investing and has expanded its ESG program. 

The Charleston Gazette-Mail published UAF spokesperson Kyle Herrig’s letter-to-the-editor calling out the West Virginia treasurer for banning financial institutions that consider ESG factors.

From the letter: West Virginia Treasurer Riley Moore put the state at risk this month, when he banned four more financial institutions from state business because they consider ESG factors when making investment decisions. – Kyle Herrig, Washington, D.C.

UAF fact checked the 1792 Exchange’s lies about responsible investing.

From UAF’s fact check: The 1792 Exchange, a dark money group that focuses on attacking “woke capitalism,” recently published the final piece in a five-part sponsored series attacking responsible investing on Breitbart – a misinformation platform with a history of lawsuits over its amplification of dangerous conspiracy theories. The pay-for-play content featured a video interview between Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow and 1792 Exchange CEO Daniel Cameron, a former Kentucky Attorney General and failed gubernatorial candidate who is notorious for supporting a near-total abortion ban and restricting access to contraception in the state. 

State Financial Officers Foundations, a conservative organization with deep ties to Leonard Leo and the Koch network, started a new, political anti-ESG arm. 

From UAF’s release: The move is one of several steps SFOF has taken to thwart progress on responsible investing in recent years. Known for using its “power to promote oil and gas interests,” SFOF has deep ties to rightwing judicial activist Leonard Leo and his anti-responsible investing group Consumers Research. Consumers Research is SFOF’s largest donor and is funded by Marble Freedom Trust, an organization run by Leo. SFOF also has deep support from the Heritage Foundation, which has taken at least $7.25 million from the foundations of Charles Koch, the owner of energy conglomerate Koch Industries, and nearly $1 million from ExxonMobil.

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