22 Jul 2020 Free Enterprise Project Lauds Proposed Rule on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Investing
Washington, D.C. – A proposed U.S. Department of Labor rule seeking to correct the risky nature of environmental, social and governance (ESG) investment was lauded by Free Enterprise Project (FEP) leaders, who had submitted a public comment supporting the rule. The proposed rule seeks to ensure retirement security for tens of millions of Americans.
“ESG investing is based on whatever political biases fund managers decide to apply, with additional costs then being passed on to the individual investor. That’s not their job,” said National Center General Counsel and FEP Director Justin Danhof, Esq. “Labor is right to point out that such investing is inherently risky and outside the bounds of proper fiduciary obligations. The left favors ESG initiatives, as it has effectively weaponized them to coerce businesses to take left-wing positions in the culture wars. Pension holders and 401K participants deserve, and are legally owed, investment portfolios devoid of politicized ESG funds. That’s just what Labor is trying to accomplish.”
“The Department of Labor has taken a vital step to protect employees’ pensions with this proposed rule. Pension plan managers have a solemn duty to achieve the highest possible returns for employee beneficiaries,” added FEP Deputy Director Scott Shepard. “They violate that duty when they turn away from that duty in order to select investments based on their personal policy preferences. The breach is particularly acute when so many of these pension funds are already underfunded. We think the rule could — and should — go even further to protect these employees, but congratulate the Department on making this important start.”
In their submitted comment, Danhof and Shepard lauded the Labor Department’s direction, noting:
We commend the Department for promulgating this proposed rule. Policy-based investing has grown more popular among institutional investors, including ERISA-governed funds, in recent years. But ERISA fund managers owe a clear duty to maximize the value of the funds they manage, and violate their fiduciary duties if they act otherwise. This rule correctly confirms these principles that have been clearly and repletely established in statute and legal precedent.
In an article published yesterday by Breitbart News, entitled “Cancel Culture Comes for Your Retirement,” Danhof defended Labor’s proposal from left-wing attacks. Danhof wrote:
Despite the incoherent attacks on Labor’s proposed rule, it actually promotes social welfare. As [Labor Secretary Eugene] Scalia stated, a “fiduciary’s duty is to retirees alone, because under ERISA one ‘social’ goal trumps all others – retirement security for American workers.” As the left’s cancel culture mob marches forward, their political ambitions might also end up canceling the retirement dreams of many Americans. Labor is doing its part to stem the tide.
The public comment period on Labor’s proposed rulemaking closes on July 30.
Launched in 2007, the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project focuses on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. Over the past four years alone, FEP representatives have participated in over 100 shareholder meetings – advancing free-market ideals about health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and other important public policy issues. As the leading voice for conservative-minded investors, it annually files more than 90 percent of all right-of-center shareholder resolutions. Dozens of liberal organizations, however, annually file more than 95 percent of all policy-oriented shareholder resolutions and continue to exert undue influence over corporate America.
FEP activity has been covered by media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Variety, the Associated Press, Bloomberg, Drudge Report, Business Insider, National Public Radio and SiriusXM. FEP’s work was prominently featured in Wall Street Journal writer Kimberley Strassel’s 2016 book The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech (Hachette Book Group).
The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 60,000 active recent contributors. Sign up for email updates here. Follow us on Twitter at @FreeEntProject and @NationalCenter for general announcements. To be alerted to upcoming media appearances by National Center staff, follow our media appearances Twitter account at @NCPPRMedia.