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BlackRock in crosshairs as conservative activists take aim at 'woke capitalism,' ESG investing
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BlackRock in crosshairs as conservative activists take aim at 'woke capitalism,' ESG investing

Conservative groups are launching a campaign aimed at stopping ESG's 'woke capitalism' from decimating investors' retirement savings, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, the first to exceed $10 trillion, is directly in the groups' crosshairs.

"The ESG movement is polluting our culture and assaulting the dignity and worth of people," Federalist Society co-chairman Leonard Leo told WSJ. "Our enterprise stands with a growing group of Americans who are fighting to crush leftist dominance in this arena."

ESG is an acronym for environmental, social, and governance investing. Investopedia's nutshell definition of ESG investing is "a set of standards for a company's behavior used by socially conscious investors to screen potential investments." In other words, ESG investments take a company's climate change stance and diversity-related activities into account as financial factors.

A conservative nonprofit called Marble Freedom Trust, overseen by Leo, has taken the lead in the initiative to disentangle ESG from actual financial factors asset managers like BlackRock and Vanguard consider when investing on consumers' behalf. So far, the group has put more than $10 million, mostly with Consumers' Research, into its anti-ESG efforts, the WSJ reports.

Marble Freedom Trust has provided grants to groups that are pushing back on the questionable, potentially risky investment strategy. Other groups receiving grants include the Heritage Foundation, the State Financial Officers Foundation, and the American Accountability Foundation, the WSJ says.

Their approach to ousting ESG includes distributing model legislation to state capitals and creating ads explaining the risks in supporting ESG principles.

Consumers' Research is the organization that launched viral ads in 2021 targeting targeting "Woka-Cola" and in 2022 targeting American Airlines for trying to "appease woke politicians to distract from its failures as a company."

Consumers' Research blasted BlackRock last year in a blistering, 30-second spot blaming it for soaring gas prices and outrageous housing prices. In the ad, the organization placed responsibility squarely in the lap of Larry Fink, BlackRock's CEO.

Further, group pointed out that BlackRock's former ESG head, Brian Deese, had become President Biden's economic adviser. Deese left his position on Biden's National Economic Council Team last week.

BlackRock has reportedly spent $3.5 million in lobbying last year, meeting with senators and representatives about ESG, the WSJ says.
Marble Freedom Trust, the anti-ESG group with Leo at the helm, received $1.6 billion to fund its efforts, which also include limiting abortion and opposing critical race theory, according to the WSJ.

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