North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell is calling for the ouster of BlackRock CEO Larry Fink for pushing a left-wing political agenda.
In a statement Dec. 9, Folwell chided Fink for engaging in “wacktivism” by focusing on Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance — or ESG — initiatives, including by using BlackRock’s corporate muscle to coerce companies to transition to “net-zero” carbon emissions by 2050.
The state has around $14 billion invested in BlackRock through the North Carolina Retirement Systems. In total, the company has approximately $9.5 trillion under management across the globe.
“As keeper of the public purse my duty is to manage our investments to ensure that the best interests of those that teach, protect and serve, as well as our retirees, are always paramount,” said Folwell in a statement. “Unfortunately, Mr. Fink’s political agenda has gotten in the way of his same fiduciary duty. A focus on ESG is not a focus on returns, and potentially could force us to violate our own fiduciary duty of loyalty.”
Folwell’s statement pointed to one example in 2020 when “BlackRock used its clients’ proxy votes to vote against two management-supported board members of ExxonMobil — the fourth-largest oil company in the world — because of ‘insignificant progress’ toward ESG goals moving the company away from oil and toward renewable energy.
“Ultimately, Mr. Fink’s continued ideological pressure could result in using ESG scores against states and local governments, lowering their credit ratings and thus driving up their cost of borrowing at taxpayers’ expense,” Folwell said. “This not only concerns me as the state treasurer and ‘keeper of the public purse,’ but as Chair of the N.C. State Banking Commission and the Local Government Commission.”
“BlackRock does a disservice to the North Carolina police, firemen, teachers, and other state workers whose hard-earned money BlackRock manages, by putting financial investment on the back burner, in favor of so-called social investing,” said Paige Terryberry, senior analyst for fiscal policy with the John Locke Foundation.
In a recent conference call with reporters, Folwell provided updates on the health of the state’s retirement fund, which is the ninth largest public pension in the country providing retirement benefits for over one million North Carolinians. The fund, valued at $111.4 billion, is down about 7% on the year, compared to the S&P 500 which is off 17% as of Dec. 8.