The world’s largest asset manager BlackRock has been hit with a lawsuit from Tennessee’s Republican Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti over the company’s “woke” Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) investing.
Skrmetti filed a consumer protection lawsuit against BlackRock on Monday.
The state AG accused Larry Fink’s globalist corporation of “misleading” Tennessean consumers about the scale and impacts of its ESG initiatives.
BlackRock is accused of causing “harm” to consumers for several years.
The suit further alleges that BlackRock’s policies and corporate voting records demonstrate that its ESG push bleeds into financial products that are marketed as non-ESG funds.
This comes despite the company’s statements that it allocates capital where its clients request as a fiduciary.
“We allege that BlackRock’s inconsistent statements about its investment strategies deprived consumers of the ability to make an informed choice,” Skrmetti said in a statement.
“Some public statements show a company that focuses exclusively on return on investment, others show a company that gives special consideration to environmental factors.
“Ultimately, I want to make certain that corporations, no matter their size, treat Tennessee consumers fairly and honestly.”
According to the lawsuit, BlackRock has more than $8 trillion in assets under management.
Due to its size and diverse holdings, the company has considerable influence over many American firms.
This is because of its large shareholder voting blocs.
Skrmetti alleges the company uses this influence to push globalist policies and preferences that are not in the interest of American consumers.
Those interests include ESG policies that advance the decarbonization and climate agendas of outside forces such as the World Economic Forum (WEF).
BlackRock has responded to the lawsuit by denying the allegations.
“We reject the Attorney General’s claims and will vigorously contest any accusations that BlackRock violated Tennessee’s consumer protection laws,” a BlackRock spokesperson said in a statement.
“Contrary to the Attorney General’s claims, BlackRock fully and accurately discloses our investment practices and our approach to proxy voting.
“On behalf of our clients, BlackRock has invested approximately $40 billion in Tennessee, and we are helping more than 600,000 hard-working Tennesseans retire with dignity.
“We are proud of our contribution and committed to the future in Tennessee.”
The vast majority of BlackRock’s clients are institutional investors, including pension funds, endowments and foundations, official institutions, and financial institutions, according to the lawsuit.
Will Hild, the executive director of Consumers’ Research, accused BlackRock of using its influence to advance the WEF’s “Net Zero” agenda.
“BlackRock has agreed to use all of the assets in their portfolio to push the Net Zero agenda,” Hild said.
“If you have a dollar invested in BlackRock, you’re invested in an ESG fund.”
Conservative officials have sharply criticized ESG investing in the past for injecting politicized considerations into the traditional model of investing, in which maximizing returns is the top priority.
BlackRock’s ESG investing has drawn the scrutiny of Republican state officials in the past as well.
Several red states, such as Louisiana, Missouri, and Florida, have divested tens of millions of dollars of state assets from the firm.
Some of BlackRock’s competitors that similarly promote ESG investment have also lost red state funding.
More recently, BlackRock and several of its prominent competitors have been involved in a House Judiciary Committee investigation into potential collusive agreements to push ESG.