Attorney General Todd Rokita issued an advisory opinion Thursday affirming that Indiana law requires Indiana Public Retirement System (INPRS) investments to be based solely on the financial interests of Hoosier public employees and retirees.
Such investments may not, under state law, be based upon any so-called environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations. According to Rokita, “these are activist-driven agendas intended to achieve radical environmental and social policies.” Examples of ESG goals include eradicating fossil-fuel industries and implementing critical race theory (CRT) in schools and corporate-training programs.
“Hoosiers deserve assurance that these retirement funds are being invested solely for financial interests,” Rokita said. “Any other commitment or stated purpose is unlawful.”
INPRS board members here in Indiana have steadily worked hard to serve the best interests of Hoosiers. But increasingly, Rokita said, actions by outside investment firms hired to manage Indiana’s investments threaten to erode this financial stability.
“ESG investment strategies represent a threat not only to the savings of individual retirees, but also to the larger national economy and democratic policymaking processes,” Rokita said. “We must root out investment-management companies that scheme to leverage Hoosiers’ retirement funds to advance leftist social and economic agendas that otherwise cannot be implemented through the ballot box. The proliferation of ESG investing has begun to affect state pension funds across the nation. We’re going to make sure that Indiana is not among the states being duped by this kind of mismanagement.”
To that end, Rokita is demanding answers from BlackRock, an investment management company that has been sole manager of Indiana’s large cap equity index fund – and one of several managers of the state’s international equity fund, real estate assets and public equity fund. BlackRock has publicized that it has made a “firm-wide commitment to integrate ESG information” into its investment processes.
BlackRock’s activities include involvement with a program that may represent an illegal agreement to restrict the production of fossil fuels, which may run afoul of federal and state antitrust laws.
“These woke Big Businesses are collaborating with their leftist allies to subvert the will of the people, including by investing Hoosiers’ hard-earned money in ways that work against the best interests of Indiana families,” Rokita said. “Our advisory opinion makes clear that oftentimes this collusion is not only unconscionable and unethical, but it’s also illegal. And we’re going to hold these firms accountable and give INPRS the tools to do so as well.”