BlackRock Leveraged Oklahoma Pension Funds To Push Racial and Climate Agendas, Report Reveals

Asset management giant BlackRock has used Oklahoma’s pension funds to promote racial and climate agendas, according to a report by the conservative watchdog group American Accountability Foundation (AAF). Since 2022, BlackRock has managed around $4.4 billion for the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) and has reportedly voted 54 times to support shareholder proposals related to racial equity audits, gender pay gap reports, and radical climate policies.

“Oklahomans deserve so much better than to have their retirement savings used as leverage for woke corporate activism,” said AAF President Thomas Jones. He argued that this use of public funds jeopardizes the financial security of hardworking Oklahomans and endangers energy workers’ livelihoods, while benefiting Wall Street elites.

BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, is a proponent of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing, which focuses on green initiatives and social impacts. OPERS, representing over 72,000 public servants, has been a significant client for BlackRock. Despite criticisms, BlackRock insists that its primary focus is to advance its clients’ financial interests.

BlackRock highlighted a report from the Committee To Unleash Prosperity, giving the firm a shareholder voting score of 8.9 out of 10, an improvement from previous ratings. They also pointed out that they voted against 93% of climate and social shareholder proposals in 2023.

In 2022, BlackRock used OPERS’ funds to support a racial equity audit resolution at Google’s parent company, Alphabet, introduced by the Nathan Cummings Foundation. The resolution called for an independent audit of Alphabet’s impact on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.

BlackRock also backed a proposal by As You Sow, urging Berkshire Hathaway to disclose and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and supported Christian Brothers Investment Services’ proposal at ExxonMobil, asking the company to evaluate the financial impact of achieving net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.

Republicans have scrutinized ESG investing strategies, arguing they prioritize social and political issues over profitability, thus breaching fiduciary responsibilities. In 2023, Oklahoma blacklisted 13 financial firms, including BlackRock, for boycotting energy companies, although OPERS exempted BlackRock from the ban for fiduciary reasons.

Additionally, an Oklahoma judge temporarily blocked the enforcement of the Oklahoma Energy Discrimination Act of 2022. Similar practices by BlackRock have been reported in Nevada, where pension funds were used to advance racial equity initiatives and climate-related proposals.

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink announced in June that he would no longer use the term “ESG” due to its political connotations. OPERS and Oklahoma state officials did not respond to requests for comment.