BlackRock’s Fink Comes Crawling to GOP, Whose Leaders Have Shown No Mercy
While the debate swirls over a “national divorce,” there’s one area where states have already filed the paperwork: corporate activism. In deep red America, the Most Wanted signs have already been hung for woke asset firms who’ve been funding a war on values with conservatives’ own dollars. Now that Republicans are putting some real muscle into the fight against ESG (environmental, social, governance), kingpins like BlackRock are feeling the squeeze. Is it too late to worm back into the GOP’s good graces? CEO Larry Fink is about to find out.
After years of making hay in the dark, there’s no escaping the bullseye painted on companies like BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street. The new House majority, dozens of state attorneys general, presidential contenders, and even everyday shareholders have made life unusually difficult for the posse in charge of the bulk of U.S. retirement funds now. Frankly, even the men driving the ESG train have to be surprised by the number of derailments since last January.
Apart from the $5 billion dollar hole blown into the three firms’ portfolio when West Virginia ($21.8 million), Florida ($2 billion), Louisiana ($794 million), Arizona ($543 million), Missouri ($500 million), Arkansas ($125 million), Utah ($100 million), and South Carolina ($200 million) yanked their pension plans from the trio, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kentucky all passed legislation that’s about to lead to an even greater deficit.
And the road ahead, The Washington Times warns, “gets rockier.” Adding to Fink’s misery, Republicans are going on the offensive with a series of congressional investigations, multi-state lawsuits, and now, federal legislation to stop whatever special treatment ESG is getting with the Biden administration.
Senator Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) are leading the charge to stop the Department of Labor from making it easier for activist firms to put politics ahead of profits. Basically, what the president’s team has done, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins explained, is they’ve told the leftists overseeing these funds, “What I want driving [these decisions] is the woke agenda of corporate America.” And if that doesn’t help individual portfolios, oh well!
“When American workers invest in their retirement,” Braun insisted, “they should be able to trust their financial advisors to be investing with their best interests in mind, not the interests of liberal activists. American retirement funds have already taken such a hit from Joe Biden’s failed economic policies, they should not be politicized. … I don’t want anybody who I’m turning my money over to have any consideration other than to give me the best return.”
Naturally, the White House hasn’t taken the bipartisan effort to overturn the Labor Department’s rule too kindly. They’re just as eager to monetize the far-Left’s agenda as BlackRock. On Monday, the president threatened to veto the bill if it crossed his desk, which seems increasingly likely given Senator Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) support. Unfortunately for Biden, one thing he can’t veto is the lawsuit of 25 attorneys general, who are attacking the policy as “unconstitutional” in court.
Meanwhile, Fink, sensing the tables have turned, is quietly launching a charm offensive behind the scenes. According to the New York Post, BlackRock’s boss “is making a fresh push to repair relationships with conservatives in Washington, sources told On The Money.” In addition to a major ad buy on Fox News (which claims “Our clients’ interests come first. Always.”), BlackRock is also sending an army of executives “to DC to meet with GOP lawmakers, and is making plans to donate more money to Republicans in the next election cycle, according to sources close to the firm.”
Justin Danhof, who’s been fighting corporate wokeness since before the term existed, thinks BlackRock’s latest moves are telling. “Larry Fink’s public posturing as of late seems to indicate he regrets that ESG has become a political football,” he told The Washington Stand. “He conveniently leaves out the fact that he is the primary culprit in politicizing business under the banner of ESG. Through proxy voting and corporate engagement, our corporate governance team at Strive is working to depoliticize American businesses. Fink’s words mean nothing without action. And we will certainly be watching.”
Other movement leaders agree that it’ll take more than a few campaign contributions to call off the GOP’s dogs. “Let’s be clear,” Paul Fitzpatrick, president of the 1792 Exchange, told TWS. “The Republican issue with BlackRock isn’t its lack of donations to Republicans — it’s BlackRock’s possible violation of fiduciary duty and antitrust laws resulting from its ESG policies. … A couple thousand dollars to a congressman doesn’t make up for a public declaration to the world that you are working to devastate the economies of West Virginia, Kentucky, Texas, or Alaska. It doesn’t get money back to today’s pensioners whose retirement portfolios underperformed due to BlackRock’s anti-carbon bias. And donations and nice conversations don’t make up for divisive social agendas harming our freedoms and culture.”
Both organizations are evidence of the growing grassroots hunger to take on woke CEOs. Strive does it by competing with them; 1792 Exchange does it by exposing them. Now, with the Republican Party putting some serious political capital behind the effort, the movement to return America to corporate neutrality — a mission 87% of the country supports — has never been stronger.
As for the three-headed monster known as BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street, the hot seat is only getting hotter. After tapping into the country’s deep resentment over woke activism, the GOP would be the first to tell you that no amount of Fink’s groveling is going to buy their cooperation. Thanks to leaders like Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), who’ve built a global fan base by keeping the corporate giants in check, the Republican Party has become the voice of the canceled, marginalized, and deplorable. They abandon that counter-culturalism at their peril.
Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.