Exclusive: Utah City Council Adopts Mayor’s Resolution Against ‘Communist-Style’ ESG in Investment Decisions


As Riverton, Utah, unanimously approved a resolution objecting to the use of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) policies in credit rating agencies, investment firms, and other financial institutions, the city’s mayor vowed to prevent the “communist-style social credit scoring” from guiding the city’s investment decisions.

In an exclusive statement to Breitbart News on Tuesday, Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs elaborated on the dangers of ESG.

“We simply can’t allow communist-style social credit scoring to take one more inch forward in America,” he said.

He also called for officials to “stand up” against such policies.

“Every local mayor, councilmember and state legislature across the country needs to stand up and push back against these dangerous and destructive ESG policies.”

The Riverton City Council resolution “categorically objects” to the implementation of “environmental, social and governance” policies in the finance sector, including ratings and credit indicators, or any other ESG scoring system “that calls out ESG factors separate from, in addition to, or apart from traditional credit ratings.”

The resolution, passed on Tuesday evening, also calls to take “immediate action” to direct the city’s financial advisors to work with investment managers which are committed to focus solely on financial interests.”

Previously, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes (R) filed a lawsuit against the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) requesting an accounting of its taxpayer funds amid reports that NAAG uses those funds to invest in companies that promote left-wing ESG goals.

The lawsuit comes over a month after Breitbart News revealed that NAAG uses public funds to invest in ESG.

Reyes’ lawsuit asks a Utah court to determine whether NAAG’s funds are subject to Utah’s State Money Management Act, a law ensuring that “public funds are held and invested in accordance with Utah’s public policy.” 

It also requests the judge grant an account order to determine the portion of public funds that NAAG holds for Utah.

As per the complaint:

NAAG is a custodian of Utah’s public funds—so its investments must comply with the Act. NAAG holds public money from a series of legal settlements entered by Utah and other States who are (or were) NAAG members. In those settlements, the parties agreed to create special purpose funds—totaling over $100 million—for the public’s benefit and appointed NAAG to administer the funds. In fact, in a recent letter to Utah’s Attorney General, NAAG confirmed that assets in the funds belong to Utah and that NAAG is investing the funds on Utah’s behalf.

But it appears that NAAG does not comply with the Act. NAAG operates Utah’s funds at a surplus and invests uncommitted assets in securities, real estate, and other financial products. In other words, NAAG invests Utah’s public money in financial products other than those specified by the Act. NAAG also deals with non-state-approved institutions and does not report to the state treasurer.

To address the inconsistency between NAAG’s actions and what the Act requires, Utah brings this case to declare NAAG and its Chief Financial Officer to be public treasurers or custodians of public funds under the Act. Utah also seeks an accounting to determine what share of NAAG’s assets qualify as Utah public funds.

In addition, the complaint cites a recent letter from Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach (R) that expressed “serious concern” about whether NAAG holds or invests public money “‘in ESG-oriented funds.”

As detailed by Breitbart News:

Some goals of ESG include forcing economic and social change by cutting American fossil fuel production in order to promote the climate change agenda and forcing racial quotas on the boards of companies.

These priorities have seen attorneys general disassociate from the organization. But with the revelation of tangible public-fund investment into left-wing social priorities, some state leaders are looking at the prospect of suing for the return of their taxpayers’ dollars.

Notably, Reyes’ lawsuit cites several Breitbart News reports, including a report about NAAG’s taxpayer-funded investments in ESG and an interview with former Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R), where he criticized the organization for its increasingly “left-leaning” slant.

According to a January poll exclusive to Breitbart News conducted by CRC Research, Americans do not want investment firms to spend their hard-earned retirement money spent on climate change and would prefer investment firms to focus on maximizing profits for retirement.

Last week, the Senate passed H.R. 30, 50-46, a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that would scrap President Joe Biden’s ESG rule, or the Department of Labor’s “Prudence and Loyalty in Selecting Plan Investments and Exercising Shareholder Rights” rule, sending it to the president’s desk for him to likely veto.

The resolution was sponsored by Republican Reps. Andy Barr (KY) and Sen. Mike Braun (IN).

Two Senate Democrats, Sens. Jon Tester (MT) and Joe Manchin (WV), voted with Republicans to pass the resolution.

The resolution passed swiftly through the House and will soon go to Biden’s desk, where he will likely veto the bill, likely the first of his presidency.

ESG is the latest vector through which the federal government, Wall Street asset managers, and activist investors push private companies to adopt leftist positions such as combatting climate change, advocating racial justice, and diversity requirements. 

Breitbart News has cataloged several incidents in which activist asset managers such as BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street push companies to adopt controversial views.

Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.

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