Gov. Gordon Joins Anti-ESG Effort Led By Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

Gov. Mark Gordon signed a letter written by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, to fight back against ESG, which is sometimes called ‘woke capitalism.’ The letter says ESG is “a direct threat” to the American economy and way of life.

March 19, 20234 min read

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Gov. Mark Gordon is joining 18 other governors in a coordinated effort, led by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, to push back against environment, social and governance (ESG). 

Critics of the ESG movement, sometimes called “woke capitalism,” say it has become a formidable mechanism in pushing progressive policies by financially starving companies that don’t comply with ESG standards. In this way, the ESG movement has been able to circumnavigate democratic processes. 

The 19 governors have signed a letter vowing to lead state-level efforts against the movement. 

“The proliferation of ESG throughout America is a direct threat to the American economy, individual economic freedom, and our way of life, putting investment decisions in the hands of the woke mob to bypass the ballot box and inject political ideology into investment decisions, corporate governance, and the everyday economy,” the letter states. 

Fiscal Focus, Not Ideology

Gordon told Cowboy State Daily he’s opposed to using ESG to guide investment decisions. 

Wyoming joined a 25-state coalition in a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Labor over a rule permitting fund managers to use ESG factors when making investments for pension plan participants. 

“The governor has continually advocated against investment restrictions that interfere or conflict with the state’s primary fiduciary responsibility to ensure Wyoming citizens receive all necessary services, as well as the best possible return on the state’s investments,” Gordon’s office says in a statement to Cowboy State Daily. 

Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution that would void the DOL rule, and the U.S. House passed identical legislation the previous week. President Joe Biden vowed to veto the measures. 

“We, as freedom loving states, can work together and leverage our state pension funds to force change in how major asset managers invest the money of hard working Americans, ensuring corporations are focused on maximizing shareholder value, rather than the proliferation of woke ideology,” the DeSantis letter states. 

The White House said in a statement that the use of ESG doesn’t conflict with fiduciary responsibilities and that the department rule isn’t a mandate. It only grants fund managers the option of factoring in ESG considerations when investing. 

Needs To Start At State Level

Rep. John Bear, R-Gillette, told Cowboy State Daily he appreciates that Gordon signed the letter, as the ESG movement has been especially effective at depriving oil, gas and coal companies of capital investment. 

Jason Isaac, director of Life:Powered, said investment in the oil and gas industry has decreased from $50 billion in 2015 to $3 billion in 2021. 

Bear said revenues from the energy sector are vital to the state, including its education system. He said effective action against the ESG movement will likely need to start at the state level. 

Wyoming had two bills aimed at removing ESG considerations in state investing, and Bear was a co-sponsor on one of them. The bills, which also were sponsored by Sen. Bo Biteman, R-Ranchester, passed the Senate. They were referred to the House Appropriations Committee, which substituted both without notifying Biteman they were doing so. 

The committee recommended the bills not pass the House, and they were never considered on the floor. 

“I was very disappointed in how the Legislature performed as far as getting those bills advanced to the governor,” Bear said. 

Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, told Cowboy State Daily that Gordon had been an early leader in the fight against ESG. Isaac has also credited Gordon with initiating much of the state-level pushback against the movement. 

“It’s a worthy cause for the state to take a stand on it,” Driskill said. 

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