24 pension fund officials demand BlackRock disclose its political activity and cut off any lawmakers that opposed Biden's certification as president

24 pension fund officials demand BlackRock disclose its political activity and cut off any lawmakers that opposed Biden's certification as president

January 28, 2021
  • More than 20 state treasurers and trustees of public pension funds have demanded BlackRock disclose its political activity.
  • During the election cycle, the asset manager paid $85,000 to 15 Republicans who later denied the results, per a Bloomberg report. 
  • The signatories, in a letter to CEO Larry Fink, said BlackRock had failed "to demonstrate leadership in its own practices or in its role as a top shareholder."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Two-dozen officials from public pension funds sent a letter to BlackRock on Monday, demanding the company disclose its political activity in the wake of the US Capitol riots on January 6.

In a letter to BlackRock's CEO Larry Fink, the officials said BlackRock had failed "to demonstrate leadership in its own practices or in its role as a top shareholder."

In the 2020 presidential election cycle, BlackRock's political action committee (PAC) donated $85,000 to 15 Republicans who later denied the results of the election, according to a Bloomberg report on January 12. The officials said in the letter that BlackRock's decision to pause all political contributions, announced in early January, did not mitigate the damage caused by its earlier donations.

Among five requests, the signatories called for BlackRock to "forswear corporate political spending (direct or indirect) to the 147 members of Congress who voted to overturn the results of a free and fair democratic election on January 6th."

This refers to Republicans who opposed the certification of President Joe Biden's election win. Many other companies, including Google and Amazon, have cut off funding to these lawmakers.

The letter was written by state treasurers and trustees of public funds and retirement savings with $1 trillion in assets under management. It was spearheaded by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the country's second-largest union, with 2 million members, and Majority Action, a nonprofit organization that speaks up on corporate issues.

"We write to you today in our capacity as institutional investors concerned with the erosion of political stability in the United States," they said.

The officials also pointed out that BlackRock, the world's largest asset management firm, ranks behind more than 150 S&P 500 companies in the 2020 CPA-Zicklin Index of Corporate Political Disclosure and Accountability.

Read more: The CEO of the world's biggest asset manager warns that companies will 'suffer' if they don't cut carbon emissions. Read excerpts from his letter to CEOs here.

They also asked the company to confirm whether it will assess its own political spending, and vote against directors at companies it invests in that have failed to disclose political spending.

Tara McDonnell, a BlackRock spokeswoman, said in a statement that the firm, "through our company disclosures, is transparent in how we conduct our political activities, including providing information on trade associations, Board oversight and political contributions."

"For companies in which our clients are invested, BlackRock's investment stewardship team has stated that in 2021, it expects Board oversight and enhanced disclosure by these companies including that they confirm that their corporate political activities are consistent with their public positions on material and strategic policy issues," McDonnell added.

In response to the attacks in Washington, Fink called the violence "an assault on our nation, our democracy, and the will of the American people."

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