States Attack Weaponized Wokeness

A multistate effort is under way to stop a Pennsylvania-based investment management company from imposing woke ideologies upon the business models of utility companies, potentially causing harm to investors and consumers.

“Once again, we’re fighting the dangerous trend toward investment strategies that are designed not to maximize financial returns but rather to impose leftist social and economic agendas that otherwise could not win approval at the ballot box,” Indiana Attorney General Rokita said.

This latest case involves a move by The Vanguard Group Inc. to seek renewal of a blanket authorization for acquisitions of voting securities of publicly traded utilities. When the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted that authorization in 2019, however, it did so on assurances from Vanguard that it would refrain from investing “for the purpose of managing” utility companies.

Vanguard also guaranteed that it would not seek to “exercise any control over the day-to-day management” of utility companies nor take any action “affecting the prices at which power is transmitted or sold.”

Now, Vanguard’s own public commitments and other statements have at the very least created the appearance that Vanguard has breached its promises to the commission by engaging in environmental activism and using its financial influence to manipulate the activities of the utility companies in its portfolio.

Vanguard has committed itself to the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative and other climate-based alliances to get to net zero emissions. Given such activism, Vanguard cannot possibly have refrained from interfering with or exercising some measure of control or influence over these coal- and gas-powered energy companies.

“So-called ‘ESG investing’ purports to be concerned with environmental, social, and governance issues,” Rokita said. “The advocates of this approach claim their activism does not interfere with making money, but they are deliberately trying to mislead the public about their ploys to subvert the will of the people for the sake of ‘progressive’ politics.”

Along with Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, Rokita is leading a multistate effort to intervene in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s handling of this case.

“A hearing in this matter,” Rokita said, “is warranted to determine the extent to which Vanguard has violated the 2019 authorization and whether granting Vanguard a blanket authorization is contrary to the public interest.”