Claim: Anti-ESG Investment State Leaders Have Conflicts of Interest

From Watts Up With That?

Essay by Eric Worrall

Florida Governor Ron Desantis. U.S. Secretary of DefenseCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

According to Naomi Oreskes, personal fossil fuel investments by politicians leading ESG divestment constitute a conflict of interest.

State leaders targeting climate investing have quiet stakes in the fossil fuel industry


  • A handful of state financial officers who have criticized environmental, social and governance investing own stakes in the fossil fuel industry, according to their financial disclosures. 
  • The investments could pose conflicts of interest, as those oil and gas companies could suffer from wider adoption of clean energy, according to ethics experts.
  • Republicans have increasingly criticized ESG investing platforms and pulled state funds away from BlackRock and other firms that have adopted them.

In October, Scott Fitzpatrick, then-treasurer of Missouri, announced his state would pull $500 million out of pension funds managed by BlackRock.

He said he would move Missouri’s money away from the asset manager because it was “prioritizing” environmental, social and governance investing over shareholder returns. Fitzpatrick, a Republican who won election as the state’s auditor in November, used his office as treasurer to target BlackRock after years of criticizing Wall Street for a perceived turn toward investing focused on climate and social issues.

As he homed in on BlackRock, Fitzpatrick quietly held a financial stake in a massive fossil fuel company that could suffer from the broader adoption of alternative energy. Fitzpatrick and his wife owned a more than $10,000 stake in Chevron during both of 2022 and 2021, according to his latest financial disclosures filed with the state.

State leaders face possible conflicts of interest when they have a chance to see financial gains from the fossil fuel industry as they use their offices to defend the sector — or in some cases move their state’s dollars away from clean-energy investments, government ethics experts told CNBC. As the officials ramp up their criticism of Wall Street investment practices, a lack of state laws requiring regular stock disclosures makes it difficult for the public to monitor what personal stake their representatives could have in the actions they take in office.

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Michael Mann also chimed in with an evil bomb.

My question to Mann and Oreskes – what money?

Why are investments in fossil fuel a problem?

Since the green revolution is inevitable, and renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels, surely people who invest in fossil fuels are simply dooming their personal finances to inevitable deep losses, when all their fossil fuel assets are stranded by the inexorable rise of unreliable, intermittent green energy.

Of course, if claims that renewables are cheaper and better are actually a pack of lies, I understand your angst.