Congressional Integrity Project research shines light on dangerous anti-ESG push
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, June 6, 2023
CONTACT: Yael Sheinfeld, firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington, D.C. — Ahead of today’s House Oversight Committee hearing designed to attack responsible investing, the Congressional Integrity Project released a memo exposing this dangerous policy push, featuring new research on the extreme witnesses and the dark money behind these widespread anti-ESG attacks.
“This hearing this afternoon is part of a well-coordinated and funded right-wing attack by the oil and gas industry and other special interests seeking one goal: to put restrictions on businesses and their freedom to invest,” said Kyle Herrig, Executive Director of the Congressional Integrity Project, on a press call ahead of the hearing.
Hearing witnesses lack credibility: All three of the Committee’s witnesses push conspiracy theories and extreme rightwing policy positions, undermining their credibility on a congressional panel.
- STEPHEN MOORE: A history of deeply controversial statements. Mr. Moore denies climate change, says women do inferior work and white males are an oppressed minority, and supports privatizing Social Security.
- JASON ISAAC: In the pocket of polluters. Mr. Isaac is the president of the Texas Natural Gas Foundation and pushes conspiracy theories related to the climate “hoax” and uses antisemitic dog whistles to stop responsible investing.
- MANDY GUNASEKARA: Shills for fossil fuel industry. Ms. Gunasekara is a Trump associate with a history of connections to big polluters, denies that carbon emissions are causing climate change, and spreads disinformation about the 2020 election.
“What this hearing says about Republican priorities is no different than what we’re seeing in general from James Comer’s Oversight Committee,” said Congressional Integrity Project Executive Director Kyle Herrig. “Far-right fringe conspiracy theories and priorities have a home in this committee. Chairman Comer does not want to work on issues that help the American people, he only wants to play to the lowest common denominator in his party. It’s shameful, and it’s doing nothing to help the American people.”
“The American public believes that this is not a top tier issue for them. They are not sitting around thinking that investors need to be restricted in how they can invest their money,” said Mindy Lubber, CEO and President of Ceres. “Spending hours and hours and tens of millions of dollars to defy that — to suggest that companies and investors may not even consider environmental, social, and governance risks — is simply a step way too far for what is important to the American public today. That is feeding their children, getting the most out of their investments, protecting the economy and their family, good education — but not whether or not we prohibit certain risks for investors to consider.”
“It is completely out of touch to be focusing on banning environmental considerations from fund managers to consider, when there are real issues our country is facing,” said Lori Lodes, Executive Director of Climate Power. “This is irresponsible at best, and it’s an indication of where their priorities are, which is not in the interest of the American people.”
Real world costs: Republican policies to ban responsible investing have already cost taxpayers. New research finds that Republican efforts to target responsible investing strategies in states like Texas are costing taxpayers millions of dollars, in the form of higher payments on municipal bonds. These attacks also put Americans’ safety at risk, with national security experts raising alarm over the implications of this effort on our military and global standing.
“We are facing, right now, direct challenges because of the climate crisis on multiple layers that are immediately impacting our military posture, our planning for our Navy…these are real legitimate threats and dangers to our national security. By eliminating ESG — to take it to that direction where Chairman Comer wants to go — he would be making us blind to these threats,” said Joel Rubin, President of Washington Strategy Group. “Essentially, he would be putting handcuffs on our intelligence community, on our defense department, on our state and homeland security departments, on their ability to plan for and counter real risks that endanger our communities and our country.”
Dark money grifter pulling the strings: The Republican campaign to control America’s investment decisions is the brainchild of Leonard Leo. Through his organization Consumers’ Research, a dark money non-profit that had led the charge against “woke” corporations, Leonard Leo has engaged in an aggressive campaign targeting corporations for making climate-friendly investments. Consumers’ Research received nearly $6 million from Leo’s group DonorsTrust and already, the group has spent more than $4 million on an ad campaign targeting BlackRock for speaking out about the clean energy transition.
The Congressional Integrity Project recently launched MAGABigOil.com to highlight Republicans’ hypocrisy. CIP also released research showing MAGA Republicans on the Committee have taken millions of dollars from Big Oil — and exposed numerous members for privately holding assets in ESG-linked investment firms.