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Gov. DeSantis is Sending a Strong Message to Woke Banks: ESG ‘Financial Fraud’ Won’t Be Tolerated

    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is sending a strong statement to ‘Woke banks’ that their Environment, Society & Governance (ESG) scheme to weaponize banks against free citizens won’t be tolerated.

    DeSantis is backing legislation that would “protect Floridians from the environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) movement which threatens the vitality of the American economy and Americans’ economic freedom by targeting disfavored individuals and industries to advance a woke ideological agenda.”

    “The leveraging of corporate power to impose an ideological agenda on society represents an alarming trend,” Governor Ron DeSantis said. “From Wall Street banks to massive asset managers and big tech companies, we have seen the corporate elite use their economic power to impose policies on the country that they could not achieve at the ballot box. Through the actions I announced today, we are protecting Floridians from woke capital and asserting the authority of our constitutional system over ideological corporate power.”

    “Woke elites use ESG investing to prop up far left policies, undermining our national security and raising prices for Americans,” Speaker Designate Paul Renner added. “The Florida House will join the fight to stop woke financial titans who seek to dictate policy to Floridians regardless of our choices at the ballot box. I look forward to working with Governor DeSantis to protect Floridians’ pocketbooks and strengthen our national security.”

    Governor DeSantis’ proposed legislation for the 2023 Legislative Session would:

    • Prohibit big banks, credit card companies and money transmitters from discriminating against customers for their religious, political, or social beliefs.
    • Prohibit State Board of Administration (SBA) fund managers from considering ESG factors when investing the state’s money.
    • Require SBA fund managers to only consider maximizing the return on investment on behalf of Florida’s retirees.

    According to a press release on the proposed legislation, Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices statute would be amended to “prohibit discriminatory practices by large financial institutions based on ESG social credit score metrics.” This “ESG score” is a framework created to “force companies to meet ESG standards and arbitrarily includes metrics based on political affiliation, religious beliefs, certain industry engagement, and ESG benchmarks.” Violations will be considered deceptive, and unfair trade practices will be punished according to the law, the statement adds.

    Justin Haskins of the Federalist provides some apt criticism for Gov. DeSantis’s legislative proposal:

    However, although there is much to appreciate about DeSantis’s proposal, it is not perfect. It appears that DeSantis’s plan would not prevent all forms of ESG discrimination. Even if his proposal were to become law, banks could, for example, refuse to provide services to customers who choose not to purchase electric cars or who own “too much” land. Additionally, nothing in DeSantis’s plan would stop financial institutions from seeking to punish companies for having the “wrong” employee demographic composition.

    Despite these flaws, the DeSantis plan, which has already received support from leaders in the Florida state legislature, remains a huge step toward ensuring ESG does not consume every part of Florida’s economy. And because of Florida’s size and influence, it is likely DeSantis’s support for anti-ESG measures will spread to other states.

    Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis is again out in front pushing back against corporatist policies that America’s elites are weaponizing to threaten freedom in the country. The rest of the Republican Party should join him in this fight.

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    OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.