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Jerry Bowyer

Jerry Bowyer

About

Jerry Bowyer (pronounced BOY-er) is a writer and commentator focused on finance and economics who became a member of the national advisory committee of the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF) in April 2023. Among his many ventures, he founded the small, family-run business Bowyer Research, an “investment, macroeconomic forecasting, and corporate engagement and proxy consulting firm.” 

Bowyer  is the author of The Maker Versus the Takers: What Jesus Really Said About Social Justice and Economics (2020), The Free Market Capitalist’s Survival Guide: How to Invest and Thrive in an Era of Rampant Socialism (2011), and The Bush Boom: How a Misunderestimated President Fixed a Broken Economy (2003). As founder of Bowyer Media, he created the podcast Meeting of Minds in 2021 as a platform for elevating anti-ESG voices and conservative ideology.

On his podcast, Bowyer interviews financial officers who bad-mouth ESG investment practices as well as key anti-ESG operatives fomenting the manufactured crisis around “woke capitalism.” These guests have included SFOF CEO Derek Kreifels and SFOF member Marlo Oaks and former member John Murante, as well as anti-ESG operatives Justin Danhof, Paul Fitzpatrick, David Bahnsen, Stephen Moore, Stephen Soukup, and Will Hild. The podcast is a project of the Salem Podcast Network, which also hosts podcasts by other right-wing influencers such as Dinesh D’Souza, Sebastian Gorka, and Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA.

In 1995, Bowyer founded the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, a conservative think tank funded by the Scaife Foundations. He has previously called for the creation of a “theocracy” in America, according to a 1999 Washington Post article.

Actions

  • Moderated a panel discussion titled “The Truth About ESG and Investing Your Values” at Liberty University’s 2022 CEO Summit, which also featured SFOF CEO Derek Kreifels and businessman turned 2024 presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy (10/6/22)
  • Participated in a panel discussion at SFOF’s 2022 fall meeting titled “ESG Part 2: Shareholder Proposals and Voting Your Proxies” with Utah Treasurer Marlo Oaks, fellow anti-ESG operative Steve Milloy, and Free Enterprise Project Director Scott Shephard (11/15/22)

Consumers Defense

Consumers Defense is the advocacy arm of Consumers’ Research, one of the primary players in the Right’s manufactured crisis of “woke capitalism” and its embrace of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investment standards, along with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. 

“We needed a vehicle by which we could be very explicit in the ways in which consumers’ interests should be protected from ESG,”  said Will Hild, executive director of Consumers’ Research, in an interview with Politico a few days after the spinoff was founded in 2022. Its initial efforts have been focused on tracking ESG legislation in various states, promoting model bills restricting ESG practices, and funding anti-ESG groups such as Heritage Action.

In its founding year, Consumers Defense invested all of its financial resources on “educational efforts,” including creating a website, publishing an ESG legislation tracker, drafting and sharing of model legislation, and distributing $100,000 in grants to “other organizations”—namely Heritage Action. Hild has said in an interview that the advocacy spinoff aims to operate with an $8-million budget, similar in size to that of its parent organization.

Operatives

Core Financials

  • Total revenue: $175,153
  • Total expenses: $118,194
  • Net assets: $56,959

Source: 2022 IRS 990 Filing

For more information, visit the Consumers Defense page on SourceWatch.

Catherine Gunsalus

About

Catherine Gunsalus is the director of state advocacy at Heritage Action for America, the advocacy arm of the Heritage Foundation. A prominent opponent of ESG investing, she frequently writes opinion pieces, testifies against ESG and other socially-minded legislation, lobbies on behalf of Heritage Action, and coordinates PR strategy with other anti-ESG advocates. She is a registered lobbyist in 18 states, according to NPR, and regularly appears on conservative platforms such as Just the News to amplify anti-ESG talking points.

At ALEC’s 50th annual meeting in July 2023, Gunsalus led a workshop with Will Hild and Richard Belzer to “educate [legislators] on how to identify and avoid politically motivated investing strategies to help keep the promises made to retirees and taxpayers.”

In its January 2022 press release announcing her appointment as state advocacy director, Heritage Action referred to Gunsalus as “a longtime political heavyweight in the state of Kansas,” where she has lived for the past decade-plus and served as assistant secretary of state and chief of staff for the former legislative speaker pro tem. She also readily speaks out against reproductive rights.

Actions

  • Co-moderated the “Stopping ESG (aka Conscientious Capitalism)” workshop at ALEC’s 50th annual meeting with Will Hild and Richard Belzer (7/26/23)
  • Wrote an op-ed for the Washington Examiner in which she argued that conservatives are winning the “war” against “woke capitalism” and ESG investing (6/16/23)

Steve Milloy

About

Steve Milloy is a former Fox News columnist and lobbyist for the tobacco and fossil fuel industries who generally aims to discredit science and any factual evidence scientists discover. He currently sits on the boards of the libertarian Heartland Institute, the pro-fossil fuel American Energy Institute and the Energy and Environment Legal Institute (a nonprofit law firm dedicated to opposing renewable energy projects and regulation of fossil fuels), where he’s also a senior policy fellow. He is also a member of the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force of the American Legislative Exchange Council, and is an adjunct fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR). 

Milloy regularly refers to all proponents of using financial leverage to address the climate crisis as being part of an “ESG cartel.” He loudly and adamantly denies the reality of climate change and the health impacts of secondhand smoke. In the early 1990s, he headed the Advancement of Sound Science Center, a pseudo think tank established by the tobacco giant Philip Morris to counter legislation unfavorable to smoking and the industry. He also claims that the academic peer-review process is biased against corporate interests, and as a frequent commentator on Fox News, he denies the impact of climate change.

Milloy was formerly an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank where he hosted an offshoot website called junkscience.com dedicated to spreading skepticism about scientific consensus on a variety of subjects. While serving on the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency transition team, he was able to normalize many of the anti-science viewpoints he shares with his pro-corporate allies, according to journalist Amy Westervelt

As a shareholder activist, Milloy regularly files shareholder resolutions that attempt to undermine climate resolutions and emissions reductions proposed by large public companies. He holds a bachelor’s degree in natural science and a master’s in biostatistics, both from Johns Hopkins University, and a law degree from the University of Baltimore.

Actions

  • Wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Examiner in which he declared that ESG is a part of “America being sold out by the elites for the economic and geopolitical benefit of foreign competitors” (8/11/23)
  • Spoke on a panel with Scott Shepard, director of NCPPR’s Free Enterprise Project, and Utah State Treasurer Marlo Oaks on “how shareholder proposals are being used to advance a social agenda and what states can do to stop it” at SFOF’s 2022 Fall National Meeting (11/15/22)
  • In comments submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), called ESG “an illegal communist scheme for circumventing democratic processes to impose arbitrarily-determined standards on corporations in order to hijack the free enterprise system for political purposes” (8/15/22)

American Accountability Foundation

About

The American Accountability Foundation (AAF) is a nonprofit launched by the far-right Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), which refers to itself as a “government oversight and research organization” that uses “aggressive research and investigations to advance conservative messaging, rapid response, and Congressional investigations.” 

However, much of AAF’s work is actually focused on discounting and discrediting President Biden and his executive nominees through opposition research and negative, often factually inaccurate narratives. The organization uses the X handle @ExposingBiden to push its point of view. During the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown-Jackson, for instance, AAF “put forward [the narrative] that she had supported lighter sentences for people who had been involved with child pornography,” according to journalist Maggie Severns.

AAF has released a number of reports to assist right-wing attacks on “woke capitalism” and ESG investing. In July 2023, it published Naming and Shaming: The ESG Movement’s Efforts to Defund Trade Associations and Put the Advocacy Community Out of Business. The report argues that ESG-related shareholder resolutions at public companies are actually “ideologically motivated to suppress the speech of conservatives and business groups,” specifically through defunding corporate lobbying.

In July 2023, AAF also produced Proxy Wars: Glass Lewis, a report claiming that the proxy advisory company Glass Lewis has an “overwhelmingly liberal” bias that has fueled the “implementation of ESG policies at major corporations.”

In April 2023, AAF published what it calls an investigative report titled None of It Is Our Money: An Introduction to the Leftist Activists and Liberal DC Insiders at BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street Using Your Money to Advance Their Political Agenda. The report has been publicized by other anti-ESG groups such as the Independent Women’s Forum.

AAF’s anti-ESG research support was also cited in the March 2023 Consumers’ Research report titled Defeating the ESG Attack on the American Free Enterprise System

In February 2023, AAF joined other major anti-ESG groups in signing a group letter calling on U.S. senators to “stop Biden’s ideological embezzling of Americans’ retirement accounts.” The following month, it signed onto an Advancing American Freedom letter thanking senators who opposed President Biden’s “woke 401(k)” rule. 

AAF is led by Tom Jones, a former legislative director for Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) and was head of opposition research for Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign. According to the Wall Street Journal, AAF has received funding from Leonard Leo’s Marble Freedom Trust, but the Center for Media and Democracy has not been able to document this.

Operatives

  • President Tom Jones
  • Research Director Jerome Trankle

Top Funders

Core Financials

  • Total revenue: $889,754
  • Total expenses: $829,403
  • Net assets: $81,535

Source: 2022 IRS filing

Richard Belzer

About

Richard Burton Belzer is an economist and policy analyst who works as an independent consultant focused on “regulation, risk, economics, and information quality,” according to his website. He has aired his longstanding anti-regulatory views and more recent criticisms of ESG everywhere from the pages of The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) to gatherings of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

The WSJ has published a number of Belzer’s letters to the editor claiming that ESG is a socialist plot to take over the U.S. economy. In response to a November 2022 opinion piece written by ESG proponents Al Gore and David Blood, he countered that the environmentally and socially conscious investment practice amounts to “an ideological crusade that succeeds by stealth,” and that the authors’ real goal is “replacing our market economy with a managed one that they and their ideological allies will direct.” In addition, he announced that after 30 years as a client of Vanguard, he was terminating his relationship with the investment management firm due to its commitment to using ESG metrics.

Belzer has worked for the federal government in a variety of capacities, including as staff economist for the Information and Regulatory Affairs arm of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) from 1988–98. Two decades later, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tapped his expertise in uncertainty analysis in appointing him to its Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee.

Belzer has also been involved with a number of free market organizations. He has been a member of the Federalist Society since 2017, and currently serves on its Regulatory Transparency Project Energy & Environment Working Group. He was formerly an associate fellow at the R Street Institute, another right-wing think tank. In 2012, hee wrote a report on the regulation of carcinogens for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a fiercely anti-regulatory think tank. He has signed group letters alongside far-right figures such as ALEC CEO Lisa Nelson and John Eastman, one of the 2020 election subversion co-conspirators recently indicted with Trump in Georgia.

Belzer holds a doctorate in public policy from Harvard, where his dissertation focused on the “economic incentives for hazardous waste management.” He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural economics from the University of California at Davis. 

Actions

  • Led a workshop called “Stopping ESG (aka Conscientious Capitalism)” with Will Hild and Catherine Gunsalus at ALEC’s 50th annual meeting (7/26/23)
  • Published a letter to the editor in the WSJ calling on Vanguard to stop “forcing non-ESG customers to participate in the ESG racket” (3/8/23)
  • Published a rebuttal in the WSJ claiming that ESG is a “hostile takeover of capitalism” and “an ideological crusade that succeeds by stealth” (11/17/22)

Christians United for Israel

About

Christians United for Israel (CUFI) claims to be the largest “pro-Israel” organization in the United States, representing 10 million “committed Christian Zionists” who advocate for policies advantageous to Israel. Pastor John Hagee founded the organization in 2006 and still serves as its chairman, leading its regional “ministry engagement coordinators” and campus-based staff who reach out to college students.. Registered as a church with the IRS, the organization is primarily concerned with U.S.-Israeli relations, opposing the BDS (boycott, divest, sanctions) movement, and countering anti-semitism.

The CUFI Action Fund, the organization’s 501(c)4 action arm, lobbies for policy changes at the federal and state levels, including widespread anti-BDS legislation and support for former President Trump’s controversial decision to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. 

CUFI engages in anti-ESG activity by criticizing how ESG rating systems impact businesses affiliated with Israel—largely due to the country’s ongoing violation of international humanitarian law. Working with the Orthodox Union (OU), CUFI has been involved in a number of high-profile cases in which it successfully argued that the investment research firm Morningstar violated state laws by negatively rating businesses that engage with Israel. In 2022, 18 attorneys general joined a Missouri-led investigation into whether Morningstar’s ESG “ratings unit violated a Missouri law aimed at protecting Israel from a campaign to isolate the Jewish state over its treatment of Palestinians,” though no findings have yet been made public in the investigation.

In March 2023, OU and CUFI sent a joint letter to the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF) thanking its members for “working to thwart companies seeking to use Americans’ retirement savings to advance anti-Israel positions.” Former CUFI Action Fund Legislative Director Jason Stverak attended SFOF meetings and spoke on an SFOF panel titled “Defending America’s Economic Freedom (Part 2)” at the 2021 SFOF Fall National Meeting in Orlando, Florida. 

Operatives

Unknown

Top Funders

Unknown

Core Financials

CUFI is registered as a church with the IRS, meaning it is not required to disclose its finances.

Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America

About

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (more commonly referred to as the Orthodox Union, or OU) is the largest coalition of Orthodox synagogues in the United States. In addition to its network of congregations, the organization supports youth services, Zionist advocacy, and international units, along with a large Kosher certification service. 

Working with Christians United for Israel (CUFI), OU engages with anti-ESG activity by criticizing how ESG rating systems impact businesses affiliated with Israel—largely due to the country’s ongoing violation of international humanitarian law. OU has been involved in a number of high-profile cases in which it successfully argued that the investment research firm Morningstar violated state laws by negatively rating businesses that engage with Israel. In 2022, 18 attorneys general joined a Missouri-led investigation into whether Morningstar’s ESG “ratings unit violated a Missouri law aimed at protecting Israel from a campaign to isolate the Jewish state over its treatment of Palestinians,” though no findings have yet been made public in the investigation.

In March 2023, OU and CUFI sent a joint letter to the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF) thanking its members for “working to thwart companies seeking to use Americans’ retirement savings to advance anti-Israel positions.”  

Operatives

Unknown

Top Funders

Unknown

Core Financials

OU is registered as a church with the IRS, meaning it is not required to disclose its finances.

Kelly Mitchell

About 

Kelly Mitchell served as treasurer of Indiana from 2014–22, leaving office due to a two-term limit in the state. She previously worked as director of Trust Indiana (2007–2014), an investment pool for local governments, and as a Cass County commissioner (1997–2004) responsible for the county budget and departmental oversight, along with planning and zoning issues. 

In 2020, Mitchell served as president of the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF), and since 2015 she has routinely moderated and participated in SFOF panel discussions. She also co-founded the National Association of State Treasurers’ first diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) committee.

Mitchell holds a bachelor’s degree from Valparaiso University and master’s degrees from Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis and the U.S. Army War College.

Actions

  • Signed a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) opposing the proposed rule known as the  Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors (6/17/22)
  • Signed an SFOF letter urging the Biden White House to spearhead “a call to invest in American energy instead of pursuing ESG initiatives that divide American energy businesses and discourage investment in these reliable energy industries” (4/5/22)
  • Signed an SFOF letter urging President Biden to withdraw his nomination of Sarah Bloom Raskin as vice chair for supervision at the Federal Reserve for her “radical banking and economic views” that would “disrupt the private banking sector, reliable energy supplies, and the U.S. economy” (1/31/21)

Lucinda Mahoney

About

Lucinda Mahoney is a former commissioner of revenue (2020–22) in Alaska who had been appointed by Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy but stepped down in late 2022 citing her desire to refocus more on her family and own health. She previously worked as a management consultant and as the CFO for the city of Anchorage (2009–14). 

As head of Alaska’s Revenue Department, Mahoney had a slightly more nuanced position on ESG than other members of the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF). In submitted testimony opposing the FDIC’s proposed principles on climate-related risk management, she wrote that they “favor and elevate social and political issues to the detriment of Alaska, our businesses, our indigenous people, and all our Alaskan residents.” However, at a panel discussion on ESG at the 2022 Alaska Oil & Gas Association (AOGA) conference, the commissioner noted that Alaska’s natural resource development was being handled sustainability and with social factors—including its impact on indigenous people—in mind. She would often highlight how Alaska’s oil and gas revenue was beneficial to Native Alaskans, and tout that “Alaska is a longtime leader in all categories measured under ESG metrics.”

Mahoney holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Texas–El Paso and an MBA from the University of Alaska–Anchorage. Much earlier in her career—before earning her MBA—she worked for an oil company.  

Actions

  • Signed a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) opposing the proposed rule known as the Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors (6/17/22) 
  • Signed an SFOF letter and submitted testimony opposing the FDIC proposed principles on climate-related financial risk management for large financial institutions (6/3/22)
  • Signed a comment letter to the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board regarding ESG practices in the municipal securities market (3/8/22)
  • Signed a letter to the Department of Labor opposing possible agency actions to protect life savings and pensions from threats of climate-related financial risks (5/16/22)

Andrea Lea

About

Andrea Lea served as state auditor of Arkansas from 2015–23 but faced term limits and was replaced by Dennis Mulligan in January 2023. As auditor she was elected president of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators and was a member of the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF).

Lea was also a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) when she served in the Arkansas State House of Representatives from 2009–13.  She co-chaired the Environmental Health and Regulation Subcommittee of ALEC’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force and was a member of its Public Safety and Elections Task Force. As a representative, she was often quoted by The Heartland Institute on matters related to local energy policy, including fracking.

Before entering state politics, Lea was a member of the Russellville City Council (2002–08) and the justice of the peace at Pope County Quorum Court (1998–2002). She holds a bachelor’s degree in Emergency Administration and Management from Arkansas Technical University.

Actions

  • Invited to participate in a virtual SFOF “issues meeting” (9/14/22)
  • Attended the 2021 SFOF national meeting in Orlando, FL (11/21)

Christopher Lee

About

Christopher Lee is a director of government relations–state affairs at the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) who lobbies extensively in favor of state-level anti-ESG bills. He has previously worked for the GOP in local Indiana politics, most recently as district director and field director for the U.S. House of Representatives, and in 2015 serving as campaign coordinator and finance director for the late Rep. Jackie Walorski’s reelection campaign. In 2012, he also worked for a brief stint as a political intern at the Koch brother’s Americans for Prosperity (AFP).

In reference to NSSF’s anti-ESG lobbying in Iowa, Lee has claimed that ESG policies “hurt the Second Amendment rights, energy security, and food security of Iowans.” 

Lee holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis and a master’s in business from Notre Dame.

Actions

Lee has lobbied for anti-ESG legislation in the following states:

Bette Grande

About

Bette Grande is the state government relations manager at the Heartland Institute, an organization known for its persistent denial of climate science. She is also the CEO and president of the Roughrider Policy Institute (RPI), a State Policy Network (SPN) affiliate established to “defend liberty and free enterprise in North Dakota.” 

For the last two of Grande’s 18 years as a North Dakota state representative (1996–2014), she chaired the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force (2012–14). She previously worked as the policy director for WallBuilders’ Pro-Family Legislative Network, a Christian anti-choice organization that promotes “traditional family values.” 

Both as a state representative and in her subsequent career moves, Grande has been a strong advocate for the oil and gas industry and a fierce opponent of regulation. “At a time when our national economy needs jobs and stable domestic energy, the biggest challenge we face is Washington, D.C.,” she wrote in a 2013 ALEC publication. After leaving the North Dakota House in 2014, she started posting her “articles and observations about energy and environmental issues” on a blog she calls Frac Baby Frac.

In her role at  Heartland, Grande conducts extensive state-level anti-ESG lobbying. Likening ESG investment practices to  social credit scoring and discrimination against fossil fuel interests, she has participated in various public forums and Heartland’s podcast to discuss how ESG measures are actually attacks on “companies in politically disfavored industries.”

Grande earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of North Dakota. Her family operates a business in the Williston Basin, which is in the heart of North Dakota’s oil-rich Bakken formation.

Actions

Grande has lobbied in favor of anti-ESG legislation in the following states:

Eric Bledsoe

About

Eric Bledsoe is a visiting fellow at the Opportunity Solutions Project (OSP), the 501(c)(4) political action arm of the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA), where he is a senior fellow. In both capacities, he provides significant state-level anti-ESG lobbying. 

Bledsoe has lobbied in support of a number of anti-ESG bills in Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, and Montana. “Pension funds are not meant to be slush funds for activists, and using ESG to funnel money towards far-Left causes is underhanded and irresponsible,” he stated in an OSP press release. Keeping with OSP/FGA’s “anti-woke” posturing, he co-wrote an op-ed in support of a Missouri “education reform” bill that opposes “infusing lessons with politically trendy ideologies or shutting out parents.” 

Prior to joining FGA/OSP, Bledsoe worked as the senior director of civics at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and as a program officer at the Charles Koch Foundation.

Bledsoe holds two degrees in English: a bachelor’s from the Catholic University of America and a master’s from Florida State University.

Actions

  • Spoke at a February 23, 2024 Alliance Defending Freedom press conference in Tennessee promoting “Tennessee House Bill 2100, which protects consumers from de-banking because of their religious and political views” alongside Tennessee Representative Jason Zachary (R); Tennessee Senator Jack Johnson (R); ADF Senior Counsel Matt Sharp; National Committee for Religious Freedom Senior Advisor Matt Goddard; and a representative from Association of Mature American Citizens (2/23/24)
  • Bledsoe has lobbied for anti-ESG legislation in the following states:

Nephi Cole

About

Nephi Cole has worked as a director of government relations—state affairs at the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) since 2018, and is responsible for conducting extensive state-level anti-ESG lobbying in order to “protect the firearms industry from ESG policies.” 

Cole previously worked as a senior policy advisor for Wyoming’s then-Governor Matthew Mead (R) and as a soil scientist and natural resource policy advisor (2001–12). He and his family participate in shooting competitions and he co-hosts the outdoors podcast Your Mountain

In April 2023, Cole was present when Montana Governor Greg Gianforte (R) signed an anti-ESG bill into law, saying, “In the last few years, woke, corporate activists have sought to unfairly deny basic access to critical business infrastructure all because they support an industry they don’t agree with.”

Cole holds a master’s degree in soil science and a bachelor’s in environmental science from Utah State University.

Actions

Cole has lobbied for anti-ESG legislation in the following states:

  • Nebraska
    • Proponent of LB 730 (2023 bill considered)
    • Proponent of LB 743 (2023 bill considered)

Brent Bennett

About

Brent Bennett is the policy director for Life:Powered, an initiative of the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) intended “to raise America’s energy IQ.” In that capacity, he conducts extensive state-level lobbying for anti-ESG bills across the country and produces anti-ESG research reports such as Keeping Politics Out of Texas Pensions: Proxy Voting Reform (2023). 

Prior to joining TPPF in 2018, Bennett worked at a startup that sold carbon nanotubes to battery manufacturers and as a technology consultant for energy storage companies. He holds a doctorate in materials science and engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Tulsa.

Actions

Bennett has lobbied in favor of specific anti-ESG legislation in the following states:

Randy McDaniel

About 

Randy McDaniel served as state treasurer in Oklahoma from 2019–23 but chose not to run for reelection in 2022. During his term in office, he was a member of the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF). 

Prior to his years as treasurer, McDaniel was an Oklahoma state representative (2006–18) who chaired the House Banking, Financial Services and Pensions Committee. After six terms in the House, he was unable to run for reelection due to term limits. 

As a state representative, McDaniel spearheaded “pension reform” that resulted in moving state pensions to a defined contribution plan. In a 2014 interview with the Reason Foundation, he said that during the final debate, he had “quoted Reason Foundation’s work to rebut the opposition’s claims.” That same year, he wrote the book Pensions and Prosperity: The History of Key Pension Decisions and the Solutions for a Secure Future.

McDaniel holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Oklahoma, and a master’s degree from Cambridge University. He also attended the Institute on Business and Government Affairs at Georgetown University and worked for two decades as a financial advisor.

Actions

  • Signed a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) opposing the proposed rule known as the Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors (6/17/22)
  • Signed an SFOF letter opposing the FDIC proposed principles on climate-related financial risk management for large financial institutions (6/3/22)
  • Signed a letter to Department of Labor opposing possible agency actions to protect life savings and pensions from threats of climate-related financial risk (5/16/22)
  • Signed a comment letter to the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board regarding ESG practices in the municipal securities market (3/8/22)
  • Signed a letter opposing the proposed Department of Labor rule change entitled Prudence and Loyalty in Selecting Plan Investments and Exercising Shareholder Rights (12/13/21)
  • Attended the 2021 national SFOF meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah (7/21)
  • Signed a letter to U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry expressing concern that he and other members of the Biden administration were “privately pressuring U.S. banks and financial institutions to refuse to lend to or invest in coal, oil, and natural gas companies” (5/25/21)
  • Signed an SFOF letter urging President Biden to withdraw his nomination of Sarah Bloom Raskin as vice chair for supervision at the Federal Reserve for her “radical banking and economic views” that would “disrupt the private banking sector, reliable energy supplies, and the U.S. economy” (1/31/21)

Ron DeSantis

About

Ron DeSantis has been the Republican governor of Florida since 2019, when he first won with Trump’s endorsement. An outspoken critic of what the Right derides as “wokeness,” he began his second term in 2023 vowing to make Florida the state “where woke goes to die.” He also continued to double-down on pronouncing his MAGA credentials in advance of his long-anticipated announcement in May 2023 (with Elon Musk on Twitter) about his 2024 presidential bid.

As governor, DeSantis has targeted Covid-19 mask mandates, LGBTQ people, asylum seekers, public sector unions, peaceful protest (though this law was later blocked by a federal judge), teaching the factual history of racism in K–12 public schools, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs at state colleges, and academic freedom (another law that is still being challenged in the courts). In his 2023 memoir The Courage to Be Free (subtitled Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival), the governor describes himself as a “blue-collar boy who grew up to take on Disney and Dr. Fauci.”

DeSantis has emerged as a national leader in the anti-ESG movement, in part by spearheading the formation of an “alliance” of 18 other GOP governors who are “committed to lead state-level efforts to protect individuals from the ESG movement.” In a public letter, these governors call ESG a “woke ideology” that poses “a direct threat to the American economy, individual economic freedom, and our way of life.” 

In May 2023, DeSantis signed legislation that prohibits Florida state officials from weighing ESG considerations when making investments and outlaws the sale of ESG bonds. Journalist Jason Garcia found that legislation the governor proposed in February 2023 would directly benefit GEO Group, the Florida-based operator of for-profit prisons and detention centers that is a big donor to both his own campaigns and the Florida GOP more broadly.

Prior to becoming governor, DeSantis served as a member of Congress (2013–18), during which time he was a founding member of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale and a law degree from Harvard.

Actions

  • Signed far-reaching legislation that bans state officials from considering ESG factors when making investments and prohibits the sale of ESG bonds (5/2/23)
  • Proposed legislation that would “protect Floridians from the woke ESG financial scam” by prohibiting state and local governments from using ESG considerations in any investment decisions, and prohibiting governments from considering ESG when contracting or procuring government contracts or issuing bonds (2/13/23)
  • As a trustee member of Florida’s State Board of Administration, passed a resolution to divest state pension funds from ESG-linked investments (8/23/22)

Ryan Chavers

About

Ryan Chavers is the communications manager for the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF) and previously worked at the Singularis Group, a conservative, Kansas-based marketing firm that, as of September 2022, was a silver-level sponsor of SFOF. From 2019–23, Chavers served as the group’s creative director after working as one of its in-house graphic designers from 2012–19. 

In his roles with the Singularis Group, he worked with a variety of clients, including SFOF and its short-lived Smart Women Smart Money magazine, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Policy Institute, and a number of conservative members of Congress.

Actions

None

Eugene Scalia

About

Eugene Scalia is a longtime partner at the law firm Gibson Dunn in Washington, D.C., where he specializes in employment law. He is the son of the late Antonin Scalia, the conservative Supreme Court associate justice who sat on the bench from 1986 until his death in 2016. 

During the Trump administration, Scalia served a short stint as Secretary of Labor (from September 2019–January 2021). Much earlier in his career, he had briefly served as the Labor Department’s solicitor (2002–2003). As secretary he was widely criticized for overseeing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s relatively meek response to workplace safety during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

At the Labor Department, Scalia promoted rulemaking that would discourage pension-plan managers from considering ESG criteria when making investments. “Private employer-sponsored retirement plans are not vehicles for furthering social goals or policy objectives that are not in the financial interest of the plan,” he noted in a 2020 press release. As of May 2023, Scalia is serving as counsel on a high-profile anti-ESG lawsuit, representing plaintiffs who are suing three New York City pension funds over their pledge to fully divest from fossil fuels by 2040.

A strong proponent of financial deregulation, Scalia has been referred to as the “one-man financial stability wrecking ball“ by the nonprofit group Better Markets.

Early in his career at Gibson Dunn, he argued that OSHA had overreached its authority in issuing citations against SeaWorld after a whale killed one of its trainers. He also fiercely opposed a new OSHA ergonomics standard to address musculoskeletal disorders.

Scalia holds a law degree from the University of Chicago Law School and a bachelor’s from the University of Virginia.

Actions

Chris Sununu

About

Chris Sununu has served as the Republican governor of New Hampshire since 2017, and won his fourth term in 2022 with 57% of the vote.

Since the governor had not taken a public position on ESG investing prior to 2023, his recent moves to do so may be related to positioning for his possible bid for president. 

In January 2023, Sununu criticized Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R)—who is also jockeying for a possible presidential bid in 2024—for his attacks on so-called “woke” companies, telling Fox News that while he agrees with the “need to push back on woke policy,” he does not think it makes sense to “punish private businesses because they don’t agree with a policy or whatever it might be. Those types of culture wars pushing their way into the private sector, that’s definitely not… where we want to be as Americans.”

In March 2023, Sununu joined 17 other Republican governors in signing a letter denouncing ESG as “woke ideology” and vowing to prevent state pension fund managers from making ESG investments. In April, the governor issued a relatively toothless executive order in which he discouraged New Hampshire’s executive agencies from making investments based solely on ESG criteria and instead encouraged that they hew more closely to “fiduciary duty.”

Prior to being elected governor in 2016, Sununu served on the New Hampshire Executive Council (2011–17) and worked as the chief executive at a ski resort. He holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering from MIT, and previously worked in environmental remediation.

Actions

  • Delivered the keynote at the State Financial Officers Foundation 2023 Spring National Meeting (4/25/23)
  • Issued an executive order discouraging the New Hampshire’s executive agencies from making investments that are based solely on ESG criteria (4/10/23)
  • Signed a letter with other GOP governors denouncing ESG as “woke ideology” and vowing to prevent state pension fund managers from making ESG investments (3/16/23)

Noah Wall

About

In April 2023, Noah Wall assumed the position of  executive vice president for Policy and Government Affairs at the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF). Prior to that, he served as executive vice president at FreedomWorks, an organization he first joined in 2014 as its national director of campaigns. In that capacity, he claims to have played a key role in the growth and development of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, a group of congressional Republicans that morphed from its Tea Party roots to champion the MAGA mentality.

Wall spoke out against ESG while at FreedomWorks, calling it “backdoor communism.” In January 2023, he said that any member of Congress “who advances ESG priorities” would be held accountable by the organization. 

Earlier in his career, Wall served as Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s political director and ran his 2013 gubernatorial campaign. He holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University.

Actions

None

Jeremy Tedesco

About

Jeremy Tedesco is an attorney who works as the senior counsel and senior vice president of corporate engagement at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF)—an anti-LGBTQ hate group—where he leads the organization’s efforts to “combat corporate cancel culture.” In his role at ADF, he oversaw the recent launch of the Viewpoint Diversity Business Index, a tool developed by ADF and Inspire Investing, a Christian right-wing, anti-ESG investment firm, to push back against “woke capitalism.” In 2022, The Heritage Foundation presented ADF with a $100,000 Innovation Prize for developing the tool.

Tedesco worked on the legal team that successfully argued the anti-LGBTQ case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission before the Supreme Court, which in 2018 ruled in favor of the bakery that had refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple. He serves on the board of the Evangelical Christian group Ratio Christi and holds a law degree from Regent University, the private Christian college founded by televangelist Pat Robertson in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Actions

  • Testified in Florida’s “House ‘weaponization’ subcommittee that probes the feds’ woke behavior targeting conservative groups” where he “gave several examples of major banks debanking groups they didn’t like at the behest of left-wing political causes or the Biden administration” (3/11/24)
  • Co-authored an anti-ESG essay titled “The Moral Duties of Business” for the conservative blog Law & Liberty (2/8/23)
  • Spoke on a panel titled “Fostering True Diversity in Non-Profit Organizations and Corporate America” hosted by South Carolina Treasurer Curtis Loftis with Stephanie Holmes and Patrice Onwuka of the Independent Women’s Forum at the 2022 Fall National Meeting of the State Financial Officers Foundation (11/14/22)

Stephen Soukup

About

Stephen Soukup is a prominent critic of ”woke capitalism” and author of The Dictatorship of Woke Capital: How Political Correctness Captured Big Business (2021). He cofounded the Political Forum Institute (wokecapital.org), a project housed at the right-wing National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR). He and former fast-food chain CEO Andy Puzder also co-authored Other People’s Money: How Progressives Hijacked Your Investments to Achieve Their Aims (2023). Soukup is also a senior fellow at Consumers’ Research.

Since early 2023, Soukup has been publishing a digital newsletter that highlights ongoing battles in the “woke capitalism” wars and is promoted on NCPPR’s website. He also claims to be the senior commentator, vice president, and publisher of the Political Forum—what he calls an “independent research provider”—but it’s unclear to what extent this organization (with a name registered in Lincoln, Nebraska) actually exists. 

Soukup met his long-time collaborator Mark Melcher (with whom he cofounded the Political Forum) when they were both at Lehman Brothers in the early 2000s. Both are associated with the Culture of Life Foundation, an anti-abortion advocacy group. 

Soukup studied political science, and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas and a master’s from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

Actions

  • Delivered a “straight talk” at the 2022 Fall National Meeting of the State Financial Officers Foundation (11/14/22)
  • Participated in a panel discussion titled “Wokeism in America’s Boardrooms” facilitated by William L. Walton with Justin Danhof, then executive vice president at the National Center for Public Policy Research, at the 2021 Fall National Meeting of the Council for National Policy  (9/24/21)
  • Signed an open letter to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink demanding that the asset management firm not take ESG factors into consideration when making investments (4/15/20)

Domestic Energy Producers Alliance

About

The Domestic Energy Producers Alliance (DEPA) is a nationwide coalition of 39 fossil fuel producers, royalty owners, oilfield service companies, and state and independent oil and natural gas associations. Although it likes to refer to its activities as “grassroots,” its members are all fully committed to making a profit from domestic fossil fuel production. 

Many members of DEPA’s executive committee and board of directors are directly tied to other right-wing organizations. Harold Hamm, a major GOP donor and board member of the pro-Trump America First Works, is chairman of DEPA’s executive committee. He is also the founder and current board chair of Continental Resources, one of the country’s largest independent oil and natural gas exploration and production companies, which has in the past had a seat on the Energy, Environment, and Agriculture task force of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

DEPA’s 30-member board of directors is composed of representatives of other fossil fuel interest groups and investment firms, including the Energy Equipment and Infrastructure Alliance, the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, and the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers. Jerry Simmons, its president and CEO, and two other DEPA board members, Ron Ness and Diana Chance, serve on the board of the pro-Israel, pro-fossil fuel Council for a Secure America.

In November 2022, Simmons sent a DEPA coalition letter to Republican leaders in Congress shortly after the GOP won a slight House majority in the midterms urging increased ESG oversight.

In January 2023, DEPA urged ALEC’s board of directors to reconsider adopting a model policy to blacklist companies that choose to limit their business dealings with fossil fuel producers.

In February 2023, Simmons signed an Advancing American Freedom coalition letter to Congress asking it to “overturn the Biden administration’s dangerous ESG rule through the Congressional Review Act.”

Operatives

  • CEO and President Jerry Simmons

Top Funders

DEPA is primarily funded through membership dues, but it does not disclose its members or funders.

Core Financials

  • Total revenue: $749,543
  • Total expenses: $697,340
  • Net assets: $729,144

Source: 2022 IRS 990 filing

Heritage Action for America

About

Founded in 2010, Heritage Action for America (Heritage Action) is the 501(c)(4) advocacy arm of The Heritage Foundation. According to its website, the group’s lobbyists on Capitol Hill work with lawmakers and their staff “to implement conservative solutions… drawn from our partners at The Heritage Foundation.” The group has successfully advocated and lobbied for voter suppression and anti-abortion legislation, and is getting more deeply involved in the Right’s anti-ESG movement.

Heritage Action works closely with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF), and the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) as part of a larger coalition committed to fighting ESG initiatives. Heritage Action publishes the website esghurts.com, promotes Heritage’s model anti-ESG legislation, and shares its lobbyists with other right-wing anti-ESG organizations. Towards the end of 2022, Heritage Action endorsed ALEC’s model bill known as the Eliminate Political Boycotts Act, which would prevent states from doing business with companies that have in turn chosen not to do business with fossil fuel producers.

Heritage Action is also part of a rightwing coalition promoting the Heritage Foundation’s State Pension Fiduciary Duty Act, model legislation that seeks to ban the consideration of ESG factors in the management of public pensions.

Heritage Action only lists two employees on its website: Executive Director Jessica Anderson and Vice President Garrett Bess. However, a pamphlet obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy indicates that the organization employs at least 10 regional legislative coordinators. It also claims to have over 20,000 grassroots activists.

Operatives

Top Funders

Note: Heritage Action is not required by law to disclose its donors. The Center for Media and Democracy identified its top funders through an examination of IRS filings.

Core Financials

  • Total Revenue: $20,906,989
  • Total Expenses: $21,985,466
  • Net Assets: $4,968,549

Source: 2022 IRS 990 filing

For more information, visit the Heritage Action page on SourceWatch.

Opportunity Solutions Project

About

The Opportunity Solutions Project (OSP)—officially registered as FGA Action—is the 501(c)(4) arm of the Florida-based, right-wing nonprofit Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA). It generates materials and commentary to back a variety of far-right causes, from conducting public polling around “election integrity” to creating informational pamphlets in support of anti-ESG bills and writing papers opposing the expansion of Medicaid. In 2018, OSP lobbied Congress to include work requirements for SNAP, the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that helps families in need feed their children. 

In 2023, OSP began posting anti-ESG content on its website, while also hiring lobbyists across the country to advocate for state-level legislation to restrict or prevent ESG investment practices.

OSP shares significant staffing overlaps with FGA and other right-wing groups. Tarren Bragdon, OSP’s founder and CEO, is also the president and chief executive of FGA. OSP’s board is largely composed of former legislators from New England (primarily from Maine and Vermont). In 2008, one board member, Carol Weston, received the Legislator of the Year Award from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). She also served as the Maine state director of Charles Koch’s Americans for Prosperity (AFP) through mid 2016. In addition, FGA awarded another board member, former Ohio State Senator Bill Conley (who also served as ALEC’s Ohio state chair), with its Legislator of the Year award.

Operatives

Top Funders

Note: FGA Action is not required by law to disclose its donors. The Center for Media and Democracy identified its top funders through an examination of IRS filings.

Core Financials

  • Total revenue: $4,043,739
  • Total expenses: $3,501,021
  • Net assets: $3,745,963

Source: 2022 IRS 990 filing

For more information, visit the OSP page on SourceWatch.

State Financial Officers Foundation News

Bridgett Wagner

About

Bridgett Wagner is the executive director of the Edwin J. Feulner Institute at The Heritage Foundation, which she first joined in 1981. She is also vice chair of the board of directors at the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF), and serves on the board of the State Policy Network (SPN). In addition, Wagner is affiliated with a number of other right-wing organizations, including the Steamboat Institute, the Mont Pelerin Society, and the Foundation for Government Accountability, which has lobbied against anti-poverty programs and in support of anti-ESG legislation.

Wagner earned a BA in Economics from the University of Dallas, where she now serves as secretary of the board of trustees.

Actions

  • Presented SFOF CEO Derek Kreifels with The Heritage Foundation’s Innovation Prize at its 2022 Resource Bank meeting for “educating the public about the pressing dangers of ESG” through their Our Money Our Values campaign (6/1/22)
  • Invited Nebraska Treasurer John Murante to speak at The Heritage Foundation’s 2022 Resource Bank meeting (3/14/22)
  • Invited Utah Treasurer Marlo Oaks to speak at The Heritage Foundation’s 2022 Resource Bank meeting (3/14/22)

CRC Advisors

About

CRC Advisors is a public relations firm founded in 1989 by Leif E. Noren, who originally named it CRC Public Relations. According to Politico, CRC “has long been the go-to communications firm for conservative organizations in Washington and across the country.” 

In 2020, Trump’s far-right “court whisperer” Leonard Leo worked with CRC Strategies President Greg Mueller to create a new conservative funding network. As part of this network, CRC Strategies rebranded itself as “CRC Advisors” to “funnel big money and expertise across the conservative movement.” It planned to spend a “minimum of $10 million [on an] issue advocacy campaign focusing on judges in the 2020 cycle.”

Corporate clients of CRC Advisors include many in the fossil fuel industry.  CRC emailed journalists with an anti-climate change mitigation campaign on behalf of Chevron Corp. during the 2020 national protests about police brutality and racial injustice after the murder of George Floyd. The email from John Gage of CRC suggested that “despite [their] claimed solidarity, environmental organizations, composed of predominantly white members, are backing radical policies like the Green New Deal which would bring particular harm to minority communities.”

CRC Advisors and Leo’s Marble Freedom Trust “are leading the anti-ESG push and have spent more than $10 million on the effort so far,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

“The ESG movement is polluting our culture and assaulting the dignity and worth of people,” Leo told the Journal. “Our enterprise stands with a growing group of Americans who are fighting to crush leftist dominance in this arena.”

CRC Advisors is deeply engaged in the fight against “woke capitalism.” The group works closely with the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF), its members, and allies, records obtained and examined by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) show.

SFOF CEO Derek Kreifels consults with the “CRC folks” on op-eds.

At SFOF’s 2022 Fall National Meeting, CRC Advisors sent the largest number of staffers of any organization, with at least nine identified by CMD, and an agenda prepared for Louisiana Treasurer and 2023 SFOF National Chair John Schroder obtained by CMD shows that CRC was coordinating media interviews for the chair on the topic of “anti-ESG.”

CRC’s Mike Martin holds weekly meetings with SFOF members and staff, like this issues meeting in September 2022 or this leadership meeting in April 2022.

CRC’s Mike Thompson holds ESG Coalition calls that Nebraska Treasurer John Murante has attended at least once.

CRC Advisors also handles media outreach and inquiries for SFOF members, including the treasurers’ offices in LouisianaNebraska, and Utah.

In addition to working for SFOF, CRC Advisors has consulting contracts with a number of allied organizations in the fight against woke capitalism, including Consumers’ Research, the Foundation for Government Accountability, Heritage Action for America, and the Republican Attorneys General Association.

Through its CRC Research arm, CRC Advisors also produces misleading public polls on ESG paid for by Leo’s group, The 85 Fund, and promoted by its allies and clients, the SFOF and Consumers’ Research.

Operatives

Top Funders

Unknown

Core Financials

Unknown

For more information, visit the CRC Advisors page on SourceWatch.

The Heritage Foundation

About

The Heritage Foundation is one of the most influential right-wing think tanks in the country. It advocates for policies that are uniformly “anti-woke,” federalist, pro-privatization, and in denial about the climate emergency. Through Heritage Action for America, its advocacy arm, Heritage has bankrolled and coordinated the widespread adoption of voter suppression laws in the wake of the 2020 election. 

Ever since the Reagan administration (1981–89), Heritage has published an influential “transition playbook” every four years. Called Mandate for Leadership, it functions as a conservative blueprint for presidential administrations. 

Based in Washington, The Heritage Foundation employs hundreds of staff members and fellows, and develops policy based on its professed commitment to “free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.” 

In addition to receiving significant funding from dark money sources, Heritage leaders have significant ties to the fossil fuel industry: Kevin Roberts, who took over as president in 2021, previously led the fossil fuel-bankrolled Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) for five years. Before joining Heritage, Executive Vice President Derrick Morgan had been a senior vice president of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers. 

The Heritage Foundation is vehemently anti-ESG, referring to these investment practices as the “Left’s political tool for pushing businesses and financial institutions to advance progressive ideology in American society.” Heritage Action publishes esghurts.com, which it promoted at the 2022 States and Nation Policy Summit hosted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). 

At that meeting, Heritage Action also endorsed the Eliminate Political Boycotts Act, a proposed piece of model legislation introduced by ALEC that would authorize state governments to blacklist corporations promoting either ESG or diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives—or both. Heritage Action’s Jessica Anderson also offered her organization’s support in helping ALEC legislators to move the model bills through their state houses. Heritage Action employs 10 regional lobbyists working in the states listed in a pamphlet it distributed at the meeting.

For the past 40 years, Heritage has hosted an annual conference called Resource Bank, which consistently brings together conservative lawmakers, media pundits, and right-wing activists. At its 2022 Resource Bank meeting, Heritage gave SFOF and the fight against woke capitalism center stage. It also awarded SFOF, the Alliance Defending Freedom, and the Independent Women’s Forum $100,000 innovation prizes for projects pushing back against ESG and DEI efforts.

In November 2022, Heritage hosted the last day of the SFOF Fall National meeting at its offices. The agenda featured a three-part session on the ESG fight and a closing keynote from their favorite orator on “woke” capitalism, Vivek Ramaswamy, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) reported. In the evening, Heritage “hosted” a dinner for the sponsors of the conference, an email obtained by CMD shows.

Heritage disseminates news through its site The Daily Signal, which provides “policy and political news as well as conservative commentary and policy analysis,” as well as a podcast called Heritage Explains.

Operatives

Top Funders

  • National Christian Charitable Foundation: $21,042,050 (2013–21)
  • Sarah Scaife Foundation: $9,930,000 (2012–21)
  • Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund: $3,656,352 (2017–20)

Note: Heritage Foundation is not required by law to disclose its donors. The Center for Media and Democracy identified its top funders through an examination of IRS filings.

Core Financials

  • Total revenue: $106,329,524
  • Total expenses: $93,668,116
  • Net assets: $331,987,871

Source: 2022 IRS 990 filing

For more information, visit the Heritage Foundation page on SourceWatch.

American Legislative Exchange Council

About

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a corporate bill-mill and pay-to-play operation that coordinates closed-door meetings between state legislators and corporate lobbyists. There they strategize about how to advance a radical right-wing, pro-corporate, and pro-Republican agenda by drafting and voting on model legislation on everything from suppressing voter access and denying climate change to crushing unions and undermining public education. ALEC boasts that state lawmakers introduce more than 1,000 of their model bills every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. 

For years, ALEC has claimed on its website that “nearly one-quarter of the country’s state legislators” are involved in the secretive group, yet it has never disclosed its members’ names nor the actual number of legislative members in any given year. In fact, ALEC records obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) show that it had only 897 members in early 2020, less than half the number it claims.

ALEC’s crusade against “woke capitalism” surfaced in May 2021 when its CEO Lisa Nelson promoted a new “Back to Neutral Coalition” to fight “corporate woke culture.” Speaking at the Council for National Policy meeting, she said, “We’re particularly sensitive about this corporate woke culture,” and noted that the new coalition “is really, really active.”

In July 2021, ALEC held its annual meeting in conjunction with the semi-annual meeting of the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF). ALEC executives hold senior positions in SFOF and Nelson sits on SFOF’s board of directors. Jonathan Williams, ALEC’s chief economist and executive vice president of policy, serves as SFOF’s senior policy advisor.

It was at the July meeting that ALEC introduced its first anti-ESG model bill: the Energy Discrimination Elimination Act, which would punish financial institutions and other companies that cease to do business with fossil fuel companies by barring the state from investing in them and denying them state contracts, CMD first reported.

Although ALEC didn’t adopt the model legislation at that meeting, it also includes an anti-boycott measure prohibiting government contractors from boycotting energy companies, even asking for “written verification” from companies stating that they “will not boycott energy companies during the term of the contract.”

Andy Puzder, a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation, claimed credit for drafting the bill at Heritage’s 2022 Resource Bank meeting, and said that SFOF, Heritage, and the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) proved to be “a huge help” with crafting the legislation.

ALEC reconsidered the Energy Discrimination Elimination Act again at its December 2021 States and Nation Policy Summit, where TPPF’s Jason Isaac promoted it to ALEC Energy, Environment, and Agriculture (EEA) task force members as a way for states to “fight back against woke capitalism.” He also pointed out that the policy is based on language from “anti-BDS legislation supported by ALEC,” which targets the movement to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel over its oppression of Palestinians.

Michigan Rep. Phil Green (R), who is now the public chair of the EEA task force, had introduced the measure a month earlier at an EEA subcommittee meeting on November 19, 2021.

The EEA task force unanimously passed the model bill at ALEC’s December 2021 meeting, as CMD reported, but it was not finalized by the board of directors. An attendance list from the task force meeting obtained by CMD shows that those who voted on the bill that day included lobbyists from Charles Koch’s Americans for Prosperity Foundation and Koch Companies Public Sector, Alliance Resource Partners, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, Arizona Public Service Company, Coalition for Community Solar Access, Conservative Energy Network, CropLife America, Kansas Municipal Utilities, Pattern Energy Group LP, Pinnacle West Capital Corporation, and the Salt River Project.

During a special meeting of its Tax and Fiscal Policy task force in March 2022, ALEC passed its State Government Employee Retirement Protection Act, which was then amended at its 2022 Annual Meeting. The model policy prohibits anyone managing state, local, or university public pensions from considering the climate emergency or other social or political factors when investing pension funds.

An email from the Pennsylvania treasurer’s office obtained by CMD confirmed that Puzder, Williams, and SFOF CEO Derek Kreifels drafted the model bill.

In 2022, the fight against “woke capitalism” took center stage at both of ALEC’s meetings. At its annual meeting in August, Woke Inc. author Vivek Ramaswamy tutored ALEC members on “How States Can Fight the Woke Industrial Complex,” and ALEC’s Nelson moderated a discussion on “Politicizing ESG Investing” with Will Hild of Consumers’ Research and Jessica Anderson, CEO of Heritage Action. At its States and Nation Policy Summit in December, Hild joined SFOF members Utah State Treasurer Marlo Oaks and Florida’s CFO Jimmy Patronis in speaking about “ESG Initiatives” at the opening breakfast meeting.

Following that ESG discussion, ALEC held a “How States Fight Back Against ESGs” workshop for members featuring Hild, Anderson, and Puzder, who compared the current fight against ESG to World War II-era efforts to eradicate Nazism and communism.

Later at the December 2022 meeting, ALEC’s EEA and Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development (CIED) task forces voted to adopt the model Eliminate Political Boycotts Act, CMD reported.

The model bill sponsored by Texas State Representative Dennis Paul (R) bars companies with 10 or more employees from receiving state contracts if they take into account any “social, political, or ideological interests” to limit their commercial relations with fossil fuel, logging, mining, or agriculture businesses—and instructs legislatures to “insert additional industries if needed.”

Once again, TPPF’s Isaac promoted the bill along with SFOF, The Heartland Institute, the Independent Women’s Forum, Heritage Action, America First Works, the Foundation for Government Accountability, and Consumers’ Research. The latter two organizations were major sponsors of the meeting, CMD reported.

ALEC’s board declined to approve the measure on January 20, 2023, and sent it back to the task force for reconsideration due to a “lack of agreement among members of the ALEC task force on Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development.”

The American Bankers Association (ABA), state bankers associations and others led the challenge. “Government should not be dictating business decisions to the private sector, which is what the draft model policy proposed. We appreciate the strong vote by the ALEC board to send this proposal back to the task force for reconsideration,” ABA stated following the vote.

ALEC continued its anti-ESG push in 2023 at its 50th Annual Meeting. In a workshop titled, “Stopping ESG (aka Conscientious Capitalism),” speakers fanned the flames of the Right’s manufactured crisis around sustainable investing and attacked net-zero alliances that are working to address the climate emergency, CMD reported.

Will Hild, executive director of Consumers’ Research, led the discussion with Catherine Gunsalus, state advocacy director at Heritage Action for America, and Richard Belzer, a self-described consultant on regulations, economic risks, and the “quality” of information. Consumers’ Research was a “Chairman-level” sponsor of the annual meeting at a cost of between $50,000 and $60,000, according to a meeting sponsorship packet obtained by CMD.

ALEC continued its focus on ESG at the U.S. Capitol on October 4, 2023 at its “50th Anniversary Policy Day,” where “How States Are Responding to ESG” was on the agenda, or what it termed in an internal email, “pushing back against ESG.”

Operatives

Top Funders

Note: ALEC is not required by law to disclose its donors. The Center for Media and Democracy identified its top funders through an examination of IRS filings.

Core Financials

  • Total revenue: $10,104,204
  • Total expenses: $9,480,356
  • Net assets: $7,040,193

Source: 2022 IRS 990 filing

For more information, visit CMD’s ALECExposed site.

Seth Metcalf

About

Seth Metcalf is president of the board of directors of the State Financial Officer Foundation (SFOF). He is also the chief financial officer of a commercial insurance exchange called Bold Penguin in Columbus, Ohio. 

From 2011–17, Metcalf served as deputy treasurer and executive counsel for then Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel. In addition, he previously served as a trustee for both the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System and the Ohio Deferred Compensation Plan.

Metcalf’s relationship with the state of Ohio is a bit muddied by concerns about his role in a failed bid to manage billions of dollars in its teachers’ pension fund. After leaving the treasury in 2017, he founded QED Management and pitched a $65-billion investment partnership to the administrators of the Ohio State Teachers Retirement System. After they turned him down, he accused the pension administrators of launching a smear campaign against QED.  

Metcalf started his career as a tax and bond lawyer, and worked at an international law firm. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University and a law degree from Cornell.

Actions

  • Presented awards at SFOF’s 2022 National Meeting (2/16/22)
  • Presented awards at SFOF’s 2021 Fall National Meeting (11/3/21)

Carrie Sheffield

About

A media pundit, Carrie Sheffield directs the Center for the American Worker and the Center for American Values at the America First Policy Institute (AFPI). She is also a senior fellow at the anti-female Independent Women’s Forum (IWF), and a fellow at the State Financial Officers Foundation’s Center for Economic Freedom & Fiscal Responsibility. She previously served as executive director of Generation Opportunity, a project of Americans for Prosperity, and was a journalism fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. 

Sheffield earned a BA in Communications from Brigham Young University and a master’s of Public Policy at Harvard. As a journalist, she has covered Congress for The Hill and POLITICO, was a contributor on the political economy at Forbes, and wrote editorials for The Washington Times. She is now a regular contributor to Tucker Carlson’s right-wing Daily Caller, wrote for the SFOF-produced Smart Women Smart Money magazine, and has written op-eds that are anti-union, critical of interest-rate caps on predatory loans, anti-trans, and anti-abortion. She is working on a memoir slated to be published by Hachette Books. 

Actions

  • As the inaugural fellow at SFOF’s Center for Economic Freedom & Fiscal Responsibility, Sheffield works “to educate Americans” on issues such as ESG, pension reform, fiduciary management, financial transparency, and government accountability (7/14/22)

Independent Women’s Forum

About

The Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) is a right-wing nonprofit founded in 1992 primarily as an anti-feminist platform for promoting free market ideologies laced with anti-trans and homophobic rhetoric. IWF maintains four policy centers it calls: Economic Opportunity (usually anti-union), Progress and Innovation (which primarily defends business practices that harm consumers), the Education Freedom Center (pro-charter and “parents’ rights”), and the Independent Women’s Law Center (which “fights against gender ideology and other radical legal theories that… punish certain viewpoints”).

IWF produces podcasts and hosts a blog that regularly publishes anti-worker, anti-union, pro-charter school, and anti-ESG messaging. It also publishes guides with talking points on a number of issues, including How to Talk About ESG, which it refers to as “a leftist political agenda.” Its 501(c)(4) sister organization Independent Women’s Voice has produced a pamphlet titled ESG in 60 Seconds”.

In addition, IWF produces a “Takeaways” series that provides key talking points for pro-gun and pro-fossil fuel lobbies, among others. It created the anti-trans website The Women’s Bill of Rights, which won a $100,000 Innovation Prize from The Heritage Foundation in 2022. In presenting the award, Heritage applauded IWF for publishing such a “simple and sensible declaration on the biology of sex” and for defining “basic terms such as ‘woman,’ ‘female’ and ‘mother’ consistent with science and common public understanding.”

In November 2022, IWF Senior Policy Analyst Mandy Gunasekara, Board Chair Heather Higgins, and President Carrie Lukas spearheaded a coalition letter addressed to Republican leaders in Congress shortly after the GOP won a slight House majority in the midterms urging increased ESG oversight.

In December 2022, IWF endorsed the Eliminate Political Boycotts Act, a proposed piece of model legislation introduced by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that would authorize state governments to blacklist corporations promoting either ESG or diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives—or both.

In February 2023, Higgins signed an Advancing American Freedom coalition letter to Congress asking it to “overturn the Biden administration’s dangerous ESG rule through the Congressional Review Act.”

On February 28, 2023, IWF announced its new Center for Energy and Conservation led by Gunasekara that will seek to “change the public discourse that has been largely defined by extremists using the environment as a tool to push bad ideas that make us poorer, more vulnerable, and sadly, don’t even deliver in terms of environment.”

On the one year anniversary of the Center, State Financial Officers Foundation CEO Derek Kreifels said, “SFOF has been proud to partner with IWF’s Center for Energy and Conservation throughout the past year. The liberty movement works hard every day to protect American energy and investors from the evils of ESG and DEI. SFOF and IWF have been powerful tools in this important work and we look forward to continuing this vital relationship.”

On June 6, 2023, IWF’s Mandy Gunasekara testified at the joint House hearing on “ESG Part II: The Cascading Impacts of ESG Compliance,” claiming that “ESG is used by progressive activists to defund and constrain the growth of other politically-disfavored companies.”

Lukas is the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Women, Sex, and Feminism (2006). Executive Vice President Amber Schwartz came to IWF from The Heritage Foundation.

Operatives

Top Funders

Note: IWF is not required by law to disclose its donors. The Center for Media and Democracy identified its top funders through an examination of IRS filings.

Core Financials

  • Total Revenue: $5,163,003
  • Total Expenses: $5,717,511
  • Net Assets: $2,675,551

Source: 2022 IRS 990 filing

For more information, visit the IWF page on SourceWatch.

Foundation for Government Accountability

About

The Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) is a right-wing think tank founded in 2011 and based in Naples, Florida. It is a member of the State Policy Network (SPN), an extensive web of right-wing think tanks that play an integral role in ensuring that legislation gets passed at the state level—by providing academic legitimacy when called on to testify at hearings, producing “studies” or model legislation, and attracting media attention. 

FGA promotes strictly limited government and through Opportunity Solutions Project (OSP)—its 501(c)(4) organization, which is officially registered as FGA Action—it has advocated for kicking people off of Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps), and unemployment benefits. In fact, since its inception it has opposed Medicaid and other federal healthcare programs.

FGA has significant institutional ties to other right-wing organizations, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). In December 2022, it endorsed the Eliminate Political Boycotts Act, a proposed piece of model legislation introduced by ALEC that would authorize state governments to blacklist corporations promoting either ESG or diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives—or both.

On August 16, 2023, FGA published a video with Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen (R) on “ESG ‘Nonsense.’”

FGA Senior Research Fellow Paige Terryberry published, “States Must End Political and Religious Debanking,” on February 29, 2024 to advocate for states to prohibit large financial institutions from using “social credit scores” in consideration of business opportunities. A few days prior to publication on February 23, FGA’s Eric Bledsoe appeared at an Alliance Defending Freedom press conference in Tennessee promoting “Tennessee House Bill 2100, which protects consumers from de-banking because of their religious and political views.”

Between 2020 and 2021, FGA paid CRC Advisors — a firm founded by Leonard Leo and deeply connected to the fight against “woke capitalism” and ESGs—$400,000 for “public relations.”

FGA is directed by founder Tarren Bragdon, a former Maine legislator. In February 2023, he signed an Advancing American Freedom coalition letter to Congress asking it to “overturn the Biden administration’s dangerous ESG rule through the Congressional Review Act.” In March 2023, he also signed an Advancing American Freedom “The Woke 401(k) Rule Must Be Repealed” letter following President Biden’s veto.

Jonathan Bechtle, FGA’s COO and general counsel, formerly served as an executive at the Freedom Foundation, a libertarian think tank. FGA’s five-member board of directors includes Stephen Pryor, former president of ExxonMobil, and Bridgett Wagner, executive director of the Edwin J. Feulner Institute at The Heritage Foundation and a member of SPN’s board of directors. 

Operatives

  • President and CEO Tarren Bragdon
  • Senior Research Fellow Paige Terryberry

Top Funders

Note: FGA is not required by law to disclose its donors. The Center for Media and Democracy identified its top funders through an examination of IRS filings.

Core Financials

  • Total Revenue: $14,025,283
  • Total Expenses: $12,236,643
  • Net Assets: $11,853,448

Source: 2022 IRS 990 filing

For more information, visit the FGA page on SourceWatch.

Alliance Defending Freedom

About

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is a Christian Right legal advocacy and litigation outfit devoted to defending traditional “family values” under the guise of religious freedom. Practically speaking, this means that ADF promotes an anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ agenda—so much so that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) designates it as an anti-LGBTQ hate group, offering as but one example the fact that it has “defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people abroad.” 

Founded in the 1990s by more than 30 Christian ministries, ADF is based in Scottsdale, Arizona and maintains seven global offices with more than 400 employees. It also has an extensive legal network with approximately 4,600 attorneys engaged in litigation, legislation, training, funding, and public advocacy. Since 2011, ADF has won 14 Supreme Court cases. 

In 2022, ADF attorneys were part of the legal team that convinced the Supreme Court to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing women in America the right to access abortion. Kristen K. Waggoner, ADF’s president, CEO, and general counsel, has argued three cases before the Supreme Court, including one (Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission) that overturned protections for LGBTQ individuals. 

In 2022, ADF received a $100,000 Innovation Prize from the right-wing Heritage Foundation for creating the Viewpoint Diversity Score Business Index, a tool used to score corporations based on their adherence to conservative Christian values in their business practices, workplace, charitable giving, and political spending. ADF worked with its “collaborating partner,” the “biblically-inspired” asset management firm Inspire Investing, to develop the index. Jeremy Tedesco, ADF’s senior counsel and senior vice president of corporate engagement, promoted the new tool at The Heritage Foundation’s 2022 annual Resource Bank conference.

Tedesco also participated in a panel discussion titled “Fostering True Diversity in Non-Profit Organizations and Corporate America” at the SFOF 2022 Fall National Meeting. South Carolina Treasurer Curtis Loftis hosted the panel, which also included Stephanie Holmes and Patrice Onwuka of the Independent Women’s Forum.

On February 23, 2024 ADF held a press conference in Tennessee promoting “Tennessee House Bill 2100, which protects consumers from de-banking because of their religious and political views.” Tennessee Representative Jason Zachary (R); Tennessee Senator Jack Johnson (R); ADF Senior Counsel Matt Sharp; National Committee for Religious Freedom Senior Advisor Matt Goddard; Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Government Accountability Eric Bledsoe; and a representative from Association of Mature American Citizens all spoke at the event.

Operatives

Top Funders

  • National Christian Charitable Foundation: $92,757,833 (2014–21)
  • Servant Foundation: $65,992,079 (2018-2021)
  • Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund: $5,506,190 (2016–20)
  • Schwab Charitable Fund: $4,845,788 (2014–21)
  • Christian Community Foundation: $1,583,830 (2014-2021)

Note: Alliance Defending Freedom is not required by law to disclose its donors. The Center for Media and Democracy identified its top funders through an examination of IRS filings.

Core Financials

  • Total revenue: $104,490,113
  • Total expenses: $81,311,475
  • Net assets: $74,998,324

Source: 2021 IRS 990 filing

For more information, visit the ADF page on SourceWatch.

Inspire Investing

About

Inspire Investing is an asset management firm that describes itself as a leader in “biblically responsible investing” (BRI) and offers a counterbalance to “secular Wall Street firms [that] tilt toward progressive, liberal values.” In practical terms, that means campaigning against investments in companies that support ESG principles, manufacture or distribute abortion-inducing medication, or that support and protect the rights of LGBTQ+ people. 

Inspire has a fleet of Christian financial advisers, investment funds and portfolios, and uses an Inspire Impact Score methodology with an online tool for screening companies and funds to determine whether or not they align with its biblical convictions. Inspire claims to manage over $2 billion in assets. 

Former Wells Fargo investment banker Robert Netzly founded Inspire in 2015, claiming that god inspired him to do so. In the past few years, the firm has done an about-face in terms of ESG investing. Initially, it stated in 2019 that it would embrace “faith-based ESG,” yet in August 2022, Netzly announced that Inspire was “renouncing ESG” due to its clear “social-Marxist agenda.” 

Inspire Investing is a “collaborating partner” of the hate group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). It recently worked with ADF on its Viewpoint Diversity Score initiative, which received a $100,000 Innovation Prize from The Heritage Foundation in 2022.

Operatives

Unknown

Top Funders

Unknown

Core Financials

Unknown

Reason Foundation

About

The Reason Foundation is a self-described libertarian think tank that professes to ​​promote “choice, competition, and a dynamic market economy as the foundation for human dignity and progress.” An associate member of the right-wing State Policy Network (SPN), the group is also part of the libertarian Atlas Network. It is in favor of privatization and limited government and against providing social security. The foundation publishes Reason, a longstanding monthly print magazine of “free minds and free markets,” and backs ReasonTV, a series of online videos on libertarianism made in conjunction with comedian and mainstream TV personality Drew Carey.

Founded in 1978 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the Reason Foundation has deep ties to the Koch brothers. The late David Koch was a trustee of the foundation, which has received significant funding from Koch family sources.

In the context of their work around pension reform, Reason produces considerable anti-ESG content, including model legislation. In November 2022, its Senior Policy Analyst Steven Gassenberger shared that legislation with the Louisiana treasurer’s office and noted that he hopes to work with Louisiana State Rep. Phillip DeVillier (R) “to have some of these policies included in the few policy bills being introduced during the upcoming fiscal session,” according to an email obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy.

In September 2022, Reason hosted a webinar opposing ESG that featured Paul Atkins, a former SEC commissioner and current CEO of Patomak Global Partners, and Andy Puzder, the retired CEO of Carl’s Jr./Hardees who is also a member of SFOF’s national advisory committee.

Operatives

Top Funders

Note: Reason is not required by law to disclose its donors. The Center for Media and Democracy identified its top funders through an examination of IRS filings.

Core Financials

  • Total revenue: $15,233,016
  • Total expenses: $14,980,930
  • Net assets: $14,635,071

Source: 2021 IRS 990 filing

For more information, visit the Reason Foundation page on SourceWatch.

Heartland Institute

About

The Heartland Institute is an Illinois-based climate denial group that advocates for small government and free market solutions to social and economic problems. In addition to refuting the climate emergency, it sows doubt around health hazards such as second-hand smoke, along with anything else that might seem to require government regulation. Heartland is an associate member of the State Policy Network (SPN), a web of right-wing think tanks and tax-exempt organizations pushing far-right policy agendas throughout the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. 

The Heartland Institute has developed a raft of anti-ESG materials, including “tip sheets” for lawmakers, an ESG primer presentation, testimony delivered to state legislators, op-eds, podcasts, and an anti-ESG legislative tracking map. The majority of this material appears to be developed by staff members associated with the organization’s Socialism Research Center.

Heartland has a staff of 24 as well as fellows, policy advisors, and a 10-member board of directors. In addition to its government relations department, it operates a Legislative Forum composed of 300 elected officials who pay dues to participate. Justin Danhof, head of corporate governance at the anti-ESG Strive Asset Management and former director of the Free Enterprise Center at the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), is a policy advisor at Heartland.

In November 2022, shortly after the GOP won a slight House majority in the midterms, Heartland President James Taylor signed on to an Independent Women’s Forum coalition letter addressed to Republican leaders in Congress urging increased ESG oversight.

In December 2022, Heartland endorsed the Eliminate Political Boycotts Act, a proposed piece of model legislation introduced by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that would authorize state governments to blacklist corporations promoting either ESG or diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives—or both.

Heartland is also part of a rightwing coalition promoting the Heritage Foundation’s State Pension Fiduciary Duty Act, model legislation that seeks to ban the consideration of ESG factors in the management of public pensions.

In February 2023, Taylor signed an Advancing American Freedom coalition letter to Congress asking it to “overturn the Biden administration’s dangerous ESG rule through the Congressional Review Act.”

At Heartland’s 2023 International Conference on Climate Change, SFOF National Policy Chair and Utah Treasurer Marlo Oaks delivered a keynote on “efforts in his state to fight ESG,” while another panel focused on “Defeating ESG.”

Operatives

Top Funders

Note: Heartland Institute is not required by law to disclose its donors. The Center for Media and Democracy identified its top funders through an examination of IRS filings.

Core Financials

  • Total Revenue: $3,852,132
  • Total Expenses: $4,309,935
  • Net Assets: $1,117,288

Source: 2022 IRS 990 filing

For more information, visit the Heartland Institute page on SourceWatch.

State Policy Network

About

The State Policy Network (SPN) is a web of right-wing think tanks and tax-exempt organizations pushing far-right policy agendas throughout the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.. SPN and its affiliates aim to privatize education, block healthcare reform, eviscerate workers’ rights, roll back environmental protections, and create a tax system that benefits only the most wealthy. SPN has more than 40 employees, and in 2021, the network had a total revenue of $185 million.

SPN groups operate as the policy, communications, and litigation arm of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), providing the cookie-cutter ALEC agenda the veneer of academic legitimacy and state-based, “grassroots” support. SPN shares many of the same sources of funding as ALEC, including from Koch’s Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and other Koch family funding vehicles.

Tracie Sharp, president of SPN since 2000, had previously served on its board of directors for 14 years. In 1991, she helped found the Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s SPN affiliate, and then served as its executive director through 1999. SPN’s board of directors reads like a rolodex of right-wing operatives, including chairman Carl O. Helstrom of the Bradley Foundation; Lawson Bader of DonorsTrust; Bridgett Wagner of The Heritage Foundation; and Elise Westhoff of the Philanthropy Roundtable.

SPN presented a panel discussion titled “Everything States Should Know About the Dangers of ESG” at its 2022 Annual Meeting featuring SFOF CEO Derek Kreifels, Nebraska State Treasurer John Murante, and Kentucky State Treasurer Allison Ball.

SPN is included as an “educational resource” at the bottom of SFOF’s homepage.

Operatives

Top Funders

Note: SPN is not required by law to disclose its donors. The Center for Media and Democracy identified its top funders through an examination of IRS filings.

Core Financials

  • Total Revenue: $21,031,105
  • Total Expenses: $21,083,831
  • Net Assets: $18,709,708

Source: 2022 IRS 990 filing

For more information, visit the SPN page on SourceWatch.

Texas Public Policy Foundation

About

The Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), an influential right-wing think tank with extensive ties to the state’s Republican politicians, refers to its headquarters in Austin as the “epicenter for liberty in Texas.” TPPF describes its mission as being “to promote and defend liberty, personal responsibility, and free enterprise in Texas.” States Trust, an affiliated states’ rights organization, is considered a “project of” the think tank. 

TPPF is also an affiliate of the State Policy Network, a web of right-wing think tanks and tax-exempt organizations pushing far-right policy agendas throughout the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.

TPPF employs roughly 100 staff members and fellows, with leadership that overlaps with other right-wing organizations. Its Executive Director and COO Greg Sindelar serves on the board of America First Works (AFW). J.B. Horton, an executive vice president, worked in the George W. Bush White House and spent more than eight years at The Heritage Foundation. Before joining TPPF, Jerome Greener, another executive vice president, served as the Texas state director for Americans for Prosperity (AFP). Two other TPPF executives held previous positions at the right-wing Illinois Policy Institute. Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts, who assumed the position in fall 2021, previously led TPPF for five years.

TPPF’s Life:Powered, a pro-fossil fuel initiative, has played a leading role in the fight against ESG investing. In December 2021, it lobbied members of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) Energy, Environment, and Agriculture task force to pass the Energy Discrimination Elimination Act model legislation at its 2021 States and Nation Policy Summit. The bill would punish financial companies that stop investing in oil, gas, and coal by barring them from receiving state government contracts or managing state funds.

In December 2022, Life:Powered lobbied for and endorsed the Eliminate Political Boycotts Act, a proposed piece of model legislation introduced by ALEC that would authorize state governments to blacklist corporations promoting either ESG or diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives—or both.

Life:Powered is also part of a rightwing coalition promoting the Heritage Foundation’s State Pension Fiduciary Duty Act, model legislation that seeks to ban the consideration of ESG factors in the management of public pensions.

Life:Powered Director Jason Isaac has also delivered remarks critical of ESG as an investment strategy at the Council for National Policy meeting in 2022 and at the SFOF National Meeting in February 2022.

In November 2022, shortly after the GOP won a slight House majority in the midterms, Isaac signed on to an Independent Women’s Forum coalition letter addressed to Republican leaders in Congress urging increased ESG oversight. In February 2023, he signed an Advancing American Freedom coalition letter to Congress asking it to “overturn the Biden administration’s dangerous ESG rule through the Congressional Review Act.”

For the past 20 years, TPPF has hosted an influential annual policy summit in Austin. At its 2023 conference in early March, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, an SFOF member, participated in a panel discussion titled “ESG = Everyone’s Suffering Guaranteed.”

On March 28, 2024 TPPF held an event titled, “Energy, Politics, Economics: How The War Over ESG Investing Will Impact ’24,” that featured 1792 Exchange CEO Daniel Cameron and Life:Powered Senior Fellow Jason Isaac.

Operatives

Top Funders

  • Charles G. Koch Foundation: $5,035,656 (2004–20)
  • PEW Charitable Trusts: $4,283,100 (2015–20)
  • Stand Together Fellowships: $4,140,298 (2015–22)
  • DonorsTrust: $2,994,519 (2010–22)
  • Deason Foundation: $1,901,833 (2015–19)

Note: TPPF is not required by law to disclose its donors. The Center for Media and Democracy identified its top funders through an examination of IRS filings.

Core Financials

  • Total revenue: $21,249,819
  • Total expenses: $$20,643,183
  • Net assets: $21,307,186

Source: 2022 IRS 990 filing


For more information, visit the TPPF page on SourceWatch.

America First Works

About

America First Works (AFW), the right-wing advocacy arm of the America First Policy Institute (AFPI), was first established following former President Trump’s 2016 election and rebranded as America First Works after his failed bid for a second term. AFW supports far-right policies and policy initiatives such as voter suppression, school privatization, anti-LGBTQ activism, and ongoing anti-abortion efforts at the state level. AFW has funneled millions of dollars to the ultra-conservative, dark money handlers DonorsTrust and Heritage Action for America.

Ashley Hayek, AFW’s executive director, is also chief engagement officer at AFPI and worked as a national coalitions director on Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Like AFPI, AFW rails against BlackRock and other investment banks and asset managers who incorporate ESG policies, calling them “energy discriminators.” In December 2022, the organization endorsed the Eliminate Political Boycotts Act, a proposed piece of model legislation introduced by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that would authorize state governments to blacklist corporations promoting either ESG or diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives—or both.

AFW is also part of a rightwing coalition promoting the Heritage Foundation’s State Pension Fiduciary Duty Act, model legislation that seeks to ban the consideration of ESG factors in the management of public pensions.

Operatives

  • Executive Director Ashley Hayek

Top Funders

  • Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America: $2,500,000 (2017)
  • CLA, Inc.: $1,000,0000 (2018)
  • American Financial Services Association: $125,000 (2017)
  • QXZ, Inc.: $100,000 (2018)

Note: AFW is not required by law to disclose its donors. The Center for Media and Democracy identified its top funders through an examination of IRS filings. 

Core Financials

  • Total revenue: $2,197,684
  • Total expenses: $2,006,255
  • Net assets: $322,406

Source: 2022 IRS 990 filing

For more information, visit the AFW page on SourceWatch.

Advancing American Freedom

About

Advancing American Freedom (AAF) is a conservative advocacy and policy group founded in 2021 by former vice president and presumptive 2024 presidential candidate Mike Pence. It seeks to bolster the “pro-freedom policies” of the Trump administration and “prevent the radical Left from enacting its policy agenda,” which “would threaten America’s freedoms.” Since its inception, the group has promoted anti-trans, anti-abortion, anti-ESG, and pro-privatization positions.

AAF’s 40-member advisory board is comprised of right-wing operatives, former politicians, and media pundits. These include conservative activists, politicians, and former Trump allies Betsy DeVos, Kellyanne Conway, Newt Gingrich (as well as his wife, Callista), Rick Santorum, Doug Ducey, and Scott Walker. Also on the board is Lisa Nelson, CEO of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and an SFOF board member; Ed Feulner, a founding trustee and past president of The Heritage Foundation; Jessica Anderson, executive director of Heritage Action for America; Marjorie Jones Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion organization Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America; Mike Farris, former CEO and general counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF); and Andrew R. Wheeler, the climate-denying, Trump-appointed former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

On October 25, 2022, AAF’s foundation held an “Unleashing American Energy” summit that featured a panel on “ESG & State Leadership.” AAF’s Brian Schmitt shared the questions/prompts by email to Louisiana Treasurer John Schroder‘s office. State Financial Officers Foundation CEO Derek Kreifels and Texas Public Policy Foundation‘s Jason Isaac participated in the panel alongside Schroder.

In February 2023, AAF announced a six-figure ad campaign in Arizona and Montana opposing ESG policies. That same month, AAF spearheaded a coalition letter to Congress asking it to “overturn the Biden administration’s dangerous ESG rule through the Congressional Review Act.”

The Associated Press also reported in February 2021 that AAF will spend $1 million on an Iowa campaign against trans-affirming policies in schools. 

Operatives

Top Funders

  • The Concord Fund: $1,500,000 (2020-2021)
  • DonorsTrust: $380,000 (2022)
  • James and Joan Lindsey Family Foundation: $300,000 (2022)
  • American Economic Freedom Alliance: $100,000 (2021)

Note: AAF is not required by law to disclose its donors.

Core Financials

  • Total Revenue: $12,562,090
  • Total Expenses: $13.474,427
  • Net Assets: $2,099,054

Source: 2022 IRS 990 filing

For more information, visit the AAF page on SourceWatch.

Ballotpedia

About

Ballotpedia—officially registered under its sponsor’s name, the Lucy Burns Institute, in its 501(c)3 filings—is an online resource founded in 2007 to track elections, politicians, and ballot measures at the local, state, and federal levels. Even though the organization professes to favor transparency in government operations and budgeting, and to be “firmly committed to neutrality,” it provides limited information about itself and how it is funded—beyond asking users to trust its editorial decisions. “Our judgments about encyclopedic and journalistic content are made independently through our editorial process and not on the basis of donor support or advertising clients,” its editors write

Ballotpedia was founded and is still led by Leslie Graves, a resident of Wisconsin with close ties to the Koch political network, the Bradley Foundation, and the effort to radically rewrite the U.S. Constitution known as the Convention of States. She delivered a keynote titled “A Post-General Election Update” at the Fall 2022 meeting of the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF).

Before joining Ballotpedia, Editor-in-Chief Geoff Pallay served as a policy analyst for the free market South Carolina Policy Council, an associate member of the right-wing State Policy Network (SPN). Before joining Ballotpedia in 2018, COO Gwen Beattie worked at the right-wing media outlet Think Freely Media.

Ballotpedia produces a weekly newsletter on ESG policies that SFOF circulates to state treasurers, and published a database of asset management companies contracting with state pensions that can be utilized by state financial officers in the creation of blacklists.

Operatives

Top Funders

Note: Ballotpedia is not required by law to disclose its donors. The Center for Media and Democracy identified its top funders through an examination of IRS filings.

Core Financials

  • Total revenue: $9,266,167
  • Total expenses: $7,825,584
  • Net assets: $5,383,156

Source: 2022 IRS 990 filing

For more information, visit the Ballotpedia page on SourceWatch.

American Petroleum Institute

About

The American Petroleum Institute (API) is the oil and gas industry’s largest trade association, claiming to represent over 650 corporate members engaged in oil production, extraction (including fracking), distribution, and other aspects of the industry. 

Based in Washington, API has offices in 27 state capitals and is a powerful lobby and major political spender, with numerous front groups to advance its political agenda. It also funds right-wing groups like the Koch-founded Americans for Prosperity (AFP) PAC and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

On May 9, 2022, API’s Vice President for State Government Relations Rolf Hanson held a call on “the SEC Climate Rule proposal” with State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF) members and former SEC Commissioner Paul Atkins, an email obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy details. Unsurprisingly, API has lobbied against all manner of environmentally sound policies, including fracking injunctions and methane-emitting fees. It is also one of the largest fossil fuel donors to the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA).

Operatives

  • Vice President for State Government Relations Rolf Hanson

Top Funders

API is primarily funded through membership dues. A full list of its members is available here.

Core Financials

  • Total revenue: $239,392,392
  • Total expenses: $241,637,261
  • Net assets: -$25,598,750

Source: 2022 IRS 990 filing

For more information, visit the API page on SourceWatch.

Strive Asset Management

About

Strive Asset Management bills itself as a “depoliticized investment option” despite being cofounded in 2022 by Vivek Ramaswamy and Anson Frericks, and receiving financial backing from Peter Thiel and J.D. Vance. Strive sees itself as the primary anti-ESG challenger to the “Big Three” financial asset managers: BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street. As of early 2023, it had eight exchange-traded funds (EFTs) and also provided proxy advisory services.

Before announcing his 2024 GOP run for president, Ramaswamy served as executive chairman, with Frericks—previously of the Anheuser Busch monopoly—serving as president. The two attended the same private, Jesuit high school in Cincinnati. Justin Danhof, formerly of the National Center for Public Policy Research, is Strive’s head of corporate governance. Matt Cole, its head of products and investments, is the former investment manager of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS). Other staff include investment bankers, former State Street executives, and former presidential appointees who worked in the George W. Bush and Trump administrations.

In addition to Thiel and Vance, other Strive investors include Howard Lutnick, the billionaire chief executive of trading firm Cantor Fitzgerald who hosted a big-money fundraiser for Trump in 2019; Joe Lonsdale, who cofounded Palantir with Thiel and was the first known funder of Bari Weiss’s anti-woke “university;” musician D.A. Wallach; and billionaire Bill Ackman, CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management.

Strive Executive Vice President Rob Melton appears to be selling its products to SFOF members, as an email obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) to West Virginia Treasurer Riley Moore indicates.

In early 2023, Ramaswamy told The New Republic that Strive is “actively seeking out new pension fund clients, trying to compete with BlackRock and ‘go after the same distribution channels.’”

In January 2023, Strive added proxy advisory services to its offerings, intending to “disrupt [the] historic… duopoly” of proxy advisory firms Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis by launching Strive Proxy Voting and Strive Outsourced Shareholder Engagement & Proxy Voting Consulting Services.

“No major proxy advisory service until now votes shares and engages in stewardship in a strictly pro-fiduciary manner, instead of advancing progressive social and political agendas with which many individual investors disagree,” Strive claimed in its press release.

Operatives

  • Head of Corporate Governance Justin Danhof
  • Cofounder and president Anson Frericks
  • Marketing and Communications Associate Alicia Lang
  • Executive Vice President Rob Melton
  • Chief Operating Officer Ben Pham
  • Cofouncer and Executive Chairman Vivek Ramaswamy
  • Director of Corporate Governance Sarah Rehberg

Top Funders

  • Pershing Square Capital Management CEO Bill Ackman
  • QOL Medical CEO Derick Cooper
  • Flex Capital
  • Founders Fund
  • The Dorado Group Chairman William Kappaz
  • Palantir Co-founder Joe Lonsdale
  • Cantor Fitzgerald Chairman and CEO Howard Lutnick
  • Narya Capital
  • Emory University School of Medicine Professor Raymond Schinazi
  • Managing Partner of Founders Fund Peter Thiel
  • Rock Musician and Venture Capitalist D.A. Wallach

Source: Crunchbase

Core Financials

Unknown

National Center for Public Policy Research

About

The National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) is a right-wing, Reagan-era 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation that sees itself as “supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems.” The organization’s areas of interest include U.S. domestic and foreign policy, social security and Medicare, government reform, environmental regulations, healthcare, and taxes. NCPPR is in favor of privatization and against government regulations, LGBTQ rights, and ESG investing, claiming that human activity plays no role in climate change.

NCPPR’s Free Enterprise Project was established in 2007 to counter “liberal shareholder activism” by filing shareholder resolutions, confronting executives at shareholder meetings, and sponsoring media campaigns. The project is directed by Scott Shepard, who spoke on a panel titled “Shareholder Proposals and Voting Your Proxies” at the SFOF 2022 Fall National Meeting. He also travels to state capitals to promote anti-ESG actions, as when he met with the Idaho legislature’s Joint Interim Committee on Federalism in 2022 to “discuss” ways to push back on companies committed to working toward environmental and social justice.

Alongside 2ndVote Advisors and Job Creators Network Foundation, Free Enterprise launched the Boardroom Initiative in April 2022 to “defend shareholders, employees, and communities from “woke” policies at corporations.”

In February 2023, NCPPR President David Ridenour signed an Advancing American Freedom coalition letter to Congress asking it to “overturn the Biden administration’s dangerous ESG rule through the Congressional Review Act.”

In March 2024, NCPPR’s Free Enterprise Project launched a mobile application called, Proxy Navigator, “a new tool in the fight to hold woke corporations accountable to their shareholders.”

Lisa Nelson, CEO of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), serves on the NCPPR board of directors and Justin Danhof, a former NCPPR vice president, is now the head of corporate governance at the anti-ESG crusader Strive Asset Management.

Operatives

Top Funders

Note: NCPPR is not required by law to disclose its donors. The Center for Media and Democracy identified its top funders through an examination of IRS filings.

Core Financials

  • Total revenue: $12,253,949
  • Total expenses: $11,317,127
  • Net assets: $3,092,796

Source: 2022 IRS 990 filing

For more information, visit the NCPPR page on SourceWatch.

State Financial Officers Foundation

About

Founded in 2012, the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF) describes itself as “the premier free-market organization bringing financial officers together with the nation’s top private sector companies and organizations.” Although it is registered as a nonpartisan nonprofit and claims no involvement “in issue advocacy on behalf of elected officials,” its members are exclusively Republican financial officers, most of whom serve in elected positions. SFOF’s priorities include battling “woke capitalism,” promoting domestic fossil fuel production, and amplifying the far-right fight against ESG  as a sound investment strategy. As of December 2023, 37 state financial officers from 28 different states are members of the organization.

SFOF has deep ties to the equally right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), sharing leaders and having held its 2021 national meeting “in conjunction” with ALEC’s own national meeting in Salt Lake City. Many ALEC leaders also occupy key positions in SFOF and attended the group’s 2022 annual meeting. ALEC CEO Lisa Nelson is on the group’s board of directors. Its chief economist and Executive Vice President of Policy Jonathan Williams is a senior policy advisor and sits on SFOF’s National Advisory Committee. In 2022, Derek Kreifels, SFOF’s founder and CEO, collaborated with Williams to draft conservative model legislation designed to “protect pensioners from politically driven investment strategies.” SFOF also endorsed the ALEC model bill called the “Eliminate Political Boycotts Act” at its December 2022 meeting, which would authorize state governments to blacklist corporations promoting ESG or diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

SFOF is also part of a rightwing coalition promoting the Heritage Foundation’s State Pension Fiduciary Duty Act, model legislation that seeks to ban the consideration of ESG factors in the management of public pensions.

In addition to ALEC, SFOF is deeply entwined with CRC Advisors, founded in 2020 by Leonard Leo and Greg Mueller to “funnel big money and expertise across the conservative movement.” CRC Advisors consults with SFOF and its members and sent the largest number of staffers of any organization to SFOF’s 2022 Fall National Meeting, as the Center for Media and Democracy reported.

In 2023, SFOF established three task forces on “investment oversight,” “fiduciary integrity/ESG,” and “banking.”

SFOF convenes twice a year to bring together its members, funders, and right-wing operatives to develop state-based strategies and communications to carry out its anti-”woke” agenda.

Operatives

  • Chief Executive Officer Derek Kreifels
  • Director of Development David Fletcher
  • Director of Operations Melanie Kreifels
  • Executive Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Noah Wall
  • Executive Assistant to the CEO Adam Slayton 
  • Senior Policy Advisor and National Advisory Committee Member Jonathan Williams
  • Communications Manager Ryan Chavers
  • SFOF Center for Economic Freedom Fellow Michael Austin
  • SFOF Center for Economic Freedom Fellow Carrie Sheffield
  • National Advisory Committee Member Adam Andrzejewski
  • National Advisory Committee Member John Ashcroft
  • National Advisory Committee Member U.S. Rep. Ron Estes (R-KS)
  • National Advisory Committee Member Andy Puzder
  • President of the Board of Directors Seth Metcalf
  • Vice Chair of the Board of Directors Bridgett Wagner
  • Treasurer of the Board of Directors Ron Crane
  • Secretary of the Board of Directors James Kemp
  • At Large Board Member Dee Dee Bass Wilbon
  • At Large Board Member Paul Fitzpatrick
  • At Large Board Member John Hart
  • At Large Board Member Lisa Nelson

Top Funders

Note: SFOF is not required by law to disclose its donors. The Center for Media and Democracy identified its top funders through an examination of IRS filings. Up until September 2022, SFOF listed its sponsors on its websites without dollar amounts, but it no longer does so.

Core Financials

  • Total revenue: $2,015,216
  • Total expenses: $1,694,826
  • Net assets: $491,964

Source: 2022 IRS 990 filing

Annual Reports

For more information, visit the SFOF page on SourceWatch.

Stand Together

About

Stand Together—the umbrella organization for the Koch political network, formerly known as the Seminar Network and Freedom Partners—refers to itself as a “philanthropic community.” Grant Hewitt, vice president for foundational education at Stand Together, has attended SFOF meetings.

Although it was founded in 2003, in 2019 Stand Together rebranded itself and became the reorganized shell organization for the sprawling Koch network. “In the 2020 election cycle, 28 organizations controlled by Charles Koch, his family, and Koch Industries executives spent a combined $1.1 billion, primarily to influence public policy and politics in the U.S., and had net revenues of $2.7 billion,” the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) reported.

Chairman and CEO Brian Hooks—who was president of the Charles Koch Foundation before the 2019 reorganization—previously served as the executive director of the right-wing Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Paul Fitzpatrick—president of the 1792 Exchange, a board member of the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF), and a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) Private Enterprise Advisory Council—was formerly director of development for the billionaire Koch brothers’ Freedom Partners (now Stand Together).

Stand Together groups are tied to the SFOF-led assault on “woke capitalism.” In December 2021, members of ALEC’s Energy, Environment, and Agriculture task force voted to approve the group’s proposed Energy Discrimination Elimination Act, a model bill written to prevent financial firms that end investments in oil, gas, and coal companies from receiving state government contracts or managing state funds, CMD reported.

Koch’s American for Prosperity (AFP) is lobbying to overturn the Biden administration’s Department of Labor rule that encourages retirement fund managers to consider ESG factors.

Operatives

Top Funders

  • CCKC4: $85,000,000 (2021)
  • America Engaged: $4,200,000 (2017–19)
  • Reams Foundation: $600,000 (2018–20)
  • American Future Fund: $500,000 (2018)
  • Mascaro Foundation: $500,000 (2015–16)

Note: Stand Together is not required by law to disclose its donors. The Center for Media and Democracy identified its top funders through an examination of IRS filings.

Core Financials

  • Total revenue: $325,758,897
  • Total expenses: $244,294,486
  • Net assets: $199,357,733

Source: 2021 IRS 990 Filing

For more information, visit the Stand Together page on SourceWatch.

State Freedom Caucus Network

About

The State Freedom Caucus Network (SFCN) is a right-wing nonprofit pioneered by the Conservative Partnership Institute. It mimics the House Freedom Caucus—the congressional coalition of far-right Republicans and Tea Party members—by helping to establish equally extreme State Freedom Caucuses (SFCs) across the country. As of February 2023, local lawmakers in 10 states had established SFCs to achieve the network’s goal of targeting “federal overreach,” election integrity, critical race theory, and, more recently, ESG policies.

In February 2023, SFCN endorsed a Republican-led resolution to reverse the Biden administration’s ESG-aligned retirement investments rule. Mississippi’s SFC has endorsed anti-ESG views, and Breitbart reports that the South Dakota and Mississippi SFCs are pushing for their respective AGs to leave the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) due to the organization’s support of ESG investment strategies. In 2021, former congressman and Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows headlined Georgia SFC’s inaugural gala, according to reporting by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD).

In February 2023, SFCN President Andrew Roth signed an Advancing American Freedom coalition letter to Congress asking it to “overturn the Biden administration’s dangerous ESG rule through the Congressional Review Act.”

Roth previously served as vice president of government affairs for Club for Growth, a conservative organization with a powerful super PAC. SFCN also has an affiliated PAC called the State Freedom Caucus Action. 

Operatives

Top Funders

Unknown, but Consumers’ Research gave $100,000 in 2022 to SFCN’s sister organization, the State Freedom Caucus Foundation.

Note: SFCN is not required by law to disclose its donors.

Core Financials

  • Total revenue: $1,082,199
  • Total expenses: $660,473
  • Net assets: $429,664

Source: 2022 IRS 990 filing

For more information, visit the SFCN page on SourceWatch.

National Shooting Sports Foundation

About

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) is the official trade association of America’s ​​firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry. It claims more than 9,000 members that include “manufacturers, distributors, retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations, and publishers across the country.”

NSSF’s Board of Governors is composed of executives from the country’s largest gun companies, including Smith & Wesson, Glock, and Daniel Defense.

Darren LaSorte, NSSF’s director of government relations, was among the panelists presenting on  “ESG Solutions: Anti-discriminatory Legislation & Other Examples” at the State Financial Officers Foundation’s 2022 National Meeting, 

NSSF backs and lobbies for passage of the Firearm Industry Nondiscrimination (FIND) Act, which is “intended to discourage corporate discrimination against the firearm industry by prohibiting taxpayer monies from going to companies intent on maliciously starving our industry of essential services like banking, insurance, software, and payment processing.”

NSSF maintains a “state anti-ESG bills” tracker on its website and sends out action alerts to its members to support the FIND Act or bills with similar language. In January 2023, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R) and Montana Governor Greg Gianforte (R) promoted their efforts against “woke” banking and investing at the 2nd Annual Governors’ Forum at NSSF’s SHOT Show 2023 in Las Vegas. In February 2023, NSSF endorsed a Republican-led resolution to reverse the Biden administration’s ESG-aligned retirement investments rule.

In February 2023, NSSF Senior Vice President for Government and Public Affairs Lawrence G. Keane signed an Advancing American Freedom coalition letter to Congress asking it to “overturn the Biden administration’s dangerous ESG rule through the Congressional Review Act.”

Two related organizations affiliated with NSSF are: the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute (SAAMI), which was established in 1926 to develop voluntary industry standards for the quality of firearms, ammunition, and accessories, and Project ChildSafe, established “to promote firearms safety and education.”

Operatives

Top Funders

  • U.S. Government: The Justice and Interior departments have both given large grants to NSSF–a combined amount of more than $1.1 million since 2018. Additionally, in 2014, DOJ awarded NSSF a $2.4 million grant for firearm safety training.
  • Georgia Corporation for Economic Development: $100,000 (2017–19)
  • National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers: $75,000 (2017–18)
  • General Dynamics: $50,000 (2019)
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States: $10,000 (2019)

Note: The National Shooting Sports Foundation is not required by law to disclose its donors. The Center for Media and Democracy identified its top funders through an examination of IRS, corporate, and government filings.

Core Financials

  • Total revenue: $51,692,186
  • Total expenses: $36,101,896
  • Net assets: $49,998,732

Source: 2021 IRS 990 Filing

Federated Hermes

Gold-Level Sponsor

About

Founded in 1955, Federated Hermes is a global investment firm responsible for managing $645.8 billion in assets, with revenue of $1.4 billion in 2022. The firm provides equity, fixed-income, alternative/private markets, multi-asset and liquidity management strategies to institutions, corporations, government entities, insurance companies, foundations and endowments, banks and broker/dealers. With headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Federated Hermes employs approximately 2,000 people in offices worldwide, including in London and New York.

As of September 2022, Federated Hermes is a gold-level sponsor of SFOF (which no longer lists its donors on its website). That month the firm assured Responsible Investor that it would “not be renewing [its] membership and… sponsorship of” SFOF. However, two months later Federated Hermes sent at least three staff members to SFOF’s 2022 Fall National Meeting, where CFA Steve Chiavarone made a presentation as part of a panel titled “Protecting Taxpayer Dollars from Inflationary Pressures Throughout the 2022 Recession.” 

Federated Hermes Executive Vice President Amy Michaliszyn attended SFOF’s 2023 Fall National Meeting and had dinner on August 28 with SFOF members and their colleagues.

In 2016, SFOF presented the firm’s Michaliszyn with its Economic Freedom Award.

Operatives

Kyriba

Silver-Level Sponsor

About

For more than 20 years, Kyriba has offered cloud treasury and finance solutions to more than 2,000 clients in 100 countries. It describes its mission as to help finance leaders to transition to a new area of practice “by unifying treasury, risk management, payments, and working capital processes to enable real-time, intelligent enterprise liquidity decisions.” 

As of September 2022, Kyriba is a silver-level sponsor of SFOF (which no longer lists its donors on its website).

Operatives

Consumers’ Research

Diamond-Level Sponsor

About

Consumers’ Research is a dark-money nonprofit that is one of the largest funders of the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF). Since Will Hild, the group’s executive director, assumed that position in 2020, Consumers’ Research has filed lawsuits against the Consumer Products Safety Commission and the Federal Communications Commission, and launched a multimillion-dollar smear campaign against BlackRock founder and CEO Larry Fink. The Washington Post reported that Leonard Leo is one of Hild’s mentors and an advisor to Consumers’ Research, and The Wall Street Journal reported that Leo’s Marble Freedom Trust is funneling money to Consumers’ Research.

The campaign against BlackRock includes the website WhoIsLarryFink.com, television, radio, and digital ads, and mobile billboards in New York City. Consumers’ Research has not disclosed the source of its funding for the BlackRock attacks nor its million-dollar Consumers First Initiative, a “name and shame” campaign against corporations that the group deems to be “playing woke politics.”

During a “How States Fight Back Against ESGs” workshop at the American Legislative Exchange Council‘s 2022 States and Nation Policy Summit, Hild touted motions that Consumers’ Research and 13 Republican attorneys general filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) earlier in the week asking it to prevent Vanguard from purchasing large amounts of public utility stocks, the Center for Media and Democracy reported.

Consumers’ Research hosts an anti-ESG legislation tracker and paid Leo’s CRC Advisors close to $1 million between 2018 and 2021 for assistance with “public relations,” and another $599,000 for “legal” services in 2022.

In December 2022, Consumers’ Research endorsed the Eliminate Political Boycotts Act, a proposed piece of model legislation introduced by ALEC that would authorize state governments to blacklist corporations promoting either ESG or diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives—or both.

Consumers’ Research is also part of a rightwing coalition promoting the Heritage Foundation’s State Pension Fiduciary Duty Act, model legislation that seeks to ban the consideration of ESG factors in the management of public pensions.

On March 8, 2023, Consumers’ Research produced a report titled, “Defeating the ESG Attack on the American Free Enterprise System,” and circulated it to leaders in Congress.

On March 14, 2023, Consumers’ Research announced a mobile billboard campaign that “exposes the hypocrisy of ESG investing ahead of President Biden using his veto power for the first time to strike down bipartisan anti-ESG legislation passed by both the House and Senate.”

Consumers’ Research launched “Woke Alerts,” a “text message alert system designed to warn shoppers to avoid products from companies accused of catering to the woke agenda,” on April 14, 2023.

On April 18, 2023, Consumers’ Research launched its “Don’t Trust Morningstar” campaign over the financial firm Morningstar’s so-called “anti-Israel bias.”

As of September 2022, Consumers’ Research is a diamond-level sponsor of SFOF (which no longer lists its donors on its website). In January 2023, Hild told The Washington Post that Consumers’ Research is the top donor to SFOF.

Consumers’ Research has an advocacy group, Consumers Defense, that works on the same issues and is also led by Hild.

Operatives

Top Funders

Note: Consumers’ Research is not required by law to disclose its donors. The Center for Media and Democracy identified its top funders through an examination of IRS filings.

Core Financials

  • Total revenue: $10,423,274
  • Total expenses: $8,515,562
  • Net assets: $2,341,076

Source: 2022 IRS 990 Filing

For more information, visit the Consumers’ Research page on SourceWatch.

Paul Atkins

About

Paul Atkins, a former commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), is founder and chief executive of Patomak Global Partners, a fintech consulting firm based in Washington, D.C.. Since its founding in 2017, he has also served as co-chair of the Token Alliance, a platform for connecting crypto exchanges and blockchain projects. 

Atkins served as an SEC commissioner during the administration of President George W. Bush (2002–08). Once the 2008 financial crisis began, he served on the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). In 2016, Atkins joined other business moguls as a member of President-elect Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum. More recently, he has spoken out against the SEC’s proposed climate disclosure rule. 

Atkins holds a bachelor’s degree from Wofford College in South Carolina and a law degree from Vanderbilt.

Actions

Paul Watkins

About

Paul Watkins is a senior legal fellow at Consumers’ Research and managing partner and founder of Fusion Law, a fintech-focused law firm based in Phoenix, Arizona. Prior to launching Fusion in 2022, he was a senior advisor at Patomak Global Partners, a Washington-based fintech consulting firm founded by Paul Atkins. Watkins is also a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council‘s Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force and holds an unknown position with Heritage Action for America.

During the Trump administration, Mick Mulvaney, the former chief of staff and Office of Management and Budget director who was serving as acting director of  the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), appointed Watkins as assistant director of CFPB’s Office of Innovation, which was largely created to help fintech firms evade consumer protection laws. That prompted intense public scrutiny of his anti-consumer policies when 80 consumer and civil rights organizations  accused Waktins of rolling back the enforcement of consumer protections. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other congressional representatives called for his removal from the CFPB when it became clear that he had worked as a senior legal counsel for the anti-LGBTQ hate group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).

Earlier in his career, Watkins also worked at the Arizona attorney general’s office and clerked for a federal circuit court judge. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Hillsdale College, a conservative Christian college in Michigan, and a law degree from Harvard.

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Paul Fitzpatrick

About

Paul Fitzpatrick is president of the 1792 Exchange and an at-large board member of the State Financial Officer Foundation (SFOF). He is also a member of the Private Enterprise Advisory Council serving the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), where he sits on its Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force.

In 2020, Fitzpatrick worked as deputy chief of staff for Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), a Trump-aligned businesswoman who had been appointed by Republican Governor Brian Kemp for a year before losing the seat to Democratic challenger Raphael Wornock. Prior to that, he served for five years as chief of staff for then Congressman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.). 

Except for these brief stints in the public sector, most of Fitzpatrick’s professional life—nearly 20 years—has been devoted to the Family Research Council, a Christian Right activist organization. He has also served as director of development for the billionaire Koch brothers’ Freedom Partners (now Stand Together).

Fitzpatrick holds a bachelor’s degree from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and an MBA from Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia.

Actions

Scott Shepard

About

Scott Shepard, a fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), directs the center’s Free Enterprise Project. He was previously a policy director with the Yankee Institute—a member of the right-wing State Policy Network—and manager of the Water Law Project at the Pacific Legal Foundation, which focuses on maintaining private property water rights. 

Shepard has held a number of visiting lecturer positions at law schools, including at the University of Illinois–Chicago, Wake Forest, and Vanderbilt. At Vanderbilt, he was an Olin-Searle Fellow, a fellowship funded by the ultra-conservative and libertarian Federalist Society. Earlier in his career, he clerked for a federal circuit court judge and in 2004 worked as an attorney advisor in the Civil Rights Office at the U.S. Department of Education.

Shepard is a columnist at RealClearMarkets and has written legal articles commissioned by Law & Economics  and Mercatus centers at George Mason University. Shepard holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Richmond, a master’s from Vanderbilt, and a law degree from the University of Virginia.

Actions

  • Signed an Advancing American Freedom coalition letter to Congress asking it to “overturn the Biden administration’s dangerous ESG rule through the Congressional Review Act” (2/7/23)
  • Spoke on a panel titled “Shareholder Proposals and Voting Your Proxies” at the SFOF 2022 Fall National Meeting led by Utah State Treasurer Marlo Oaks on “how shareholder proposals are being used to advance a social agenda and what states can do to stop it.” Jerry Bowyer, president of Boyer Research, and Steve Milloy, a senior fellow at the Energy and Environment Legal Institute, were also panelists (6/15/22)
  • Met with the Idaho legislature’s Joint Interim Committee on Federalism to “discuss” the ESG issue (6/7/22)
  • Presented to SFOF members on a weekly call about NCPPR’s Investor Value Voter Guide 2022 and Balancing the Boardroom Guide (2/2/22)
  • Signed an open letter to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink demanding that the asset management firm not take ESG factors into consideration when making investments (4/15/20)

Derek Kreifels

About

Derek Kreifels is the chief executive officer of the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF), which he co-founded in 2012. He was appointed by the Kansas Speaker of the House Daniel Hawkins in 2023 to serve a four-year term on the board of trustees at the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. Kreifels also became a member of the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in 2023.

Previously, he served as secretary of the Kansas Republican Party, and from December 2010 to January 2016, served as assistant state treasurer in Kansas when Republican Ron Estes held the top post. 

Melanie Kreifels, his wife, also works at SFOF—as director of operations. From 2020–21, the couple co-published an SFOF magazine called Smart Women Smart Money

Kreifels holds a bachelor’s degree in communications/public relations from Wichita State University and a master’s in management from Friends University, a faith-based “Christian university of Quaker heritage” in Wichita.

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Jason Isaac

About

Jason Isaac is president of the Texas Natural Gas Foundation (TXNG), founder/CEO of the American Energy Institute and director of Life:Powered, a pro-fossil fuel initiative of the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF). Since 2020, he has served on the board of policy advisors for The Heritage Foundation.

Isaac served four terms in the Texas House of Representatives (2010–19), during which he received more than $43,000 from the oil and gas industry, according to the watchdog group Texas for Public Justice. In 2018, the Austin American-Statesman reported that as a state representative he had worked with TXNG to develop pro-fossil fuel science education guidelines. 

During the latter half of this tenure in the Texas state legislature, Isaac was a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), participating in the Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development as well as the Tax and Fiscal Policy task forces.

Isaac is a regular contributor to the Daily Caller and the Epoch Times, and has contributed pro-fossil fuel content to the online “school” PragerU. His wife, Carrie Isaac, represents a region north of San Antonio in the Texas House. Isaac holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Stephen F. Austin State University.

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Lisa Nelson

About

Lisa Nelson has been the CEO of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) since 2014 and is a member of the boards of the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF) and the National Center for Public Policy.

With an extensive history as a corporate lobbyist, Nelson has  lobbied on behalf of Visa, AOL, and Time Warner. Prior to joining ALEC, she worked as a managing partner of Ulysses Consulting. 

Nelson started her political career in the 1980s, working in the Republican National Committee’s strategic planning office.  In 1994, as executive director of GOPAC, she was instrumental in helping Republicans win back control of the U.S. House for the first time in more than 40 years. Her public-sector roles include serving as then Speaker of the House Leader Newt Gingrich’s public affairs liaison and, under President George W. Bush, acting as a commissioner for the White House Fellows Program.

While working at the National Review decades later, Nelson founded the National Review Institute, an associate member of the State Policy Network, in 2013. She was formerly. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and international relations from the University of California at Berkeley.

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Jessica Anderson

About

Jessica Anderson is the founding president of Heritage Action’s super PAC, the Sentinel Action Fund, and former executive director of Heritage Action for America, the political advocacy arm of The Heritage Foundation. During the Trump administration, she served as associate director of intergovernmental affairs and strategic initiatives at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). She is also a founding board member of the suburban-mom-focused nonprofit N2 America and founding president of the pro-Trump super PAC Moms for Safe Neighborhoods. Anderson’s first political job was at the Civitas Institute, a free market think tank in North Carolina.

In 2021, Democrats in Iowa’s House of Representatives named Anderson in a lawsuit for violating the state’s lobbying rules. That same year, Mother Jones reported on a leaked video in which she boasted to donors about Heritage Action’s role in drafting and coordinating model voter suppression laws in Georgia, Iowa, Florida, and Arizona.

An outspoken anti-abortion advocate, Anderson is a frequent guest on FOX News, FOX Business, and Newsmax, and is a regular contributor to the Daily Caller and the Daily Signal. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida.

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Justin Danhof

About

Justin Danhof has been the executive vice president and head of corporate governance at Strive Asset Management, the investment firm cofounded by Vivek Ramaswamy, since its founding in 2022, as well as a policy advisor at the Heartland Institute. Prior to that, he worked at the National Center for Public Policy Research for 12 years—as a general counsel, director of its Free Enterprise Project (FEP), and finally, as executive vice president.

While leading FEP, Danhof produced an annual Investor Value Voter Guide for right-wing shareholder activists. It listed corporate proposals shareholders should oppose, such as ones that address the climate crisis, racism and sexism in the workplace, lobbying disclosures, reproductive health rights, and other societal concerns that impact Americans’ everyday lives.

Danhof’s public-sector work includes stints at the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, the Massachusetts Alliance for Economic Development (MassEcon), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Danhof holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Bentley University and a law degree and master’s in tax law from the University of Miami. He is a member of the Christian Legal Society and the Federalist Society, as well as a frequent contributor to its right-wing online magazine The Federalist.

Actions

  • Spoke on a panel titled “Should the Market or Regulators or Neither Mandate ESG Disclosures?” at the Federalist Society‘s Second Annual In-House Counsel Network Conference with Paredes Strategies Founder Troy Paredes, Former United States Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia, and United States Securities and Exchange Commissioner Hester Peirce (5/19/23)
  • Participated in a panel discussion titled “ESG: Evil, Stupidity, or Grift?” at the 2022 National Conservatism conference, speaking about “post-ESG” investing (9/11/22)
  • Spoke in a challenge circle titled “Reclaiming Corporate America: Pushing Back on Woke Activism” at the Resource Bank meeting of The Heritage Foundation with 1792 Exchange CEO Paul Fitzpatrick (6/2/22)
  • Presented the “ESG threats to free enterprise” at the Bradley Foundation (2021)
  • Signed an open letter to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink demanding that the asset management firm not take ESG factors into consideration when making investments (4/15/20)

Andy Olivastro

About

Andy Olivastro is vice president for outreach at The Heritage Foundation. His background in public relations includes having founded the firm ATO Strategies and worked at United Technologies (now Raytheon Technologies) and Edelman Public Relations. Earlier in his career, he worked as a speechwriter for Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie and for Carlos Guitierrez, PresidentGeorge W. Bush’s commerce secretary. In 2007, he was a fellow at the Claremont Institute, the right-wing think tank that later developed strong ties to Trump and became “a nerve center of the American Right,” as The New York Times describes it.

Olivastro is on the advisory council of Viewpoint Diversity Score, a project of the conservative Christian Alliance Defending Freedom. His writing for The Heritage Foundation blog has been syndicated by The Daily Caller, Daily Signal, and the American Mind. Olivastro holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from New York’s Troy University. 

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Vivek Ramaswamy

About

Vivek Ramaswamy is the author of Woke Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam (2021) and cofounder and former executive chairman of Strive Asset Management, an investment company with financial backing from billionaires and far-right activists Peter Thiel and J.D. Vance. Ramaswamy still owns 50-75% of Strive shares, according to a June 15, 2023 SEC filing. After announcing his candidacy in the GOP presidential primary, the 38-year-old entrepreneur resigned from active involvement in Strive in early 2023 and contributed $10 million to his own campaign in the first quarter. He professes to be ready to “gut the federal government,” as The Atlantic reported in an August 2023 profile, and seems to back conspiracy theories about government involvement in both the 9/11 and January 6 attacks on the country.

Born and raised in Ohio, Ramaswamy frequently brandishes his first-generation American credentials (both his parents are immigrants from India) to boost his Horatio Alger image. Prior to launching Strive in 2022, he built on his background in biotech investing by founding the biopharmaceutical company Roivant Sciences.

Ramaswamy is also a board member of the Philanthropy Roundtable and the right-wing think tank Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, the latter being an associate member of the State Policy Network (SPN). He holds a bachelor’s in biology from Harvard and a law degree from Yale.

In 2022, Ramaswamy received the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF) Honors Lifetime Achievement Award.

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Mike Nasi

About

Mike Nasi is a partner at Jackson Walker, a Texas-based law firm where he specializes in environmental and energy law. He also serves as special counsel for the Southern States Energy Board (SSEB) and is considered “a top lawyer for coal companies,” as the New York Times refers to him. 

In his role at Jackson Walker, Nasi has conducted a number of webinars about ESG and has lobbied for anti-ESG bills on behalf of various organizations in several states.

In West Virginia, Nasi testified in favor of SB 262 in 2022, speaking on behalf of the Life:Powered project of the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF). In his testimony, he noted that he had also been in contact with the West Virginia Coal Association about the legislation. In Indiana, he lobbied on behalf of Reliable Energy in 2022 as a proponent of the state’s proposed anti-ESG legislation HB 1224.

In his testimony in West Virginia, Nasi claims to have been heavily involved in the process of drafting the original anti-ESG legislation in Texas. He also helped develop a model anti-ESG bill “in conjunction with several different states” and has worked with Republican attorneys general Ken Paxton (Texas) and Patrick Morrissey (West Virginia) to advance legal arguments against the federal Clean Air Act, one of the country’s first environmental protection laws—passed in 1963 to control air pollution. 

Nasi holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.

Actions

  • Delivered an “Update on State Government Responses to ESG” webinar for Jackson Walker (10/21)
  • Delivered an “ESG and the Near Term Impact to the Energy Industry,” webinar for Jackson Walker and Echo Production (6/21)

Will Hild

About

Will Hild is the executive director of Consumers’ Research, a dark-money group that is one of the largest funders of the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF). Since he assumed that position in 2020, the organization has filed lawsuits against the Consumer Products Safety Commission and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and launched a multimillion-dollar smear campaign against BlackRock CEO Larry Fink. Consumers’ Research hosts a tracker highlighting anti-ESG legislation.

Hild previously served as deputy director of the Federalist Society’s Regulatory Transparency Project and worked at the Philanthropy Roundtable. He holds a law degree from Georgetown and a bachelor’s in political science from the University of Florida. The Washington Post reported that Leonard Leo, the “court whisperer” credited with pushing the federal judiciary to the far Right in recent years, is one of Hild’s mentors and an advisor to Consumers’ Research. 

In 2023, SFOF gave Hild the “State Economic Impact” award.

Actions

Jonathan Williams

About

Jonathan Williams is the senior policy advisor for the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF) as well as a member of its national advisory board. He is also the chief economist and executive vice president of policy at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which he joined in 2007 before establishing its Center for State Fiscal Reform four years later.

Prior to joining ALEC, Williams served as staff economist at the Tax Foundation, a pro-business think tank founded in 1937 to monitor governmental tax and spending policies. In addition, he is an adjunct fellow at the Kansas Policy Institute, a member of the right-wing State Policy Network, and the writer behind the “State of the States” column for Tax Notes, a site that bills itself as offering “comprehensive and impartial coverage of tax news.” A native of Michigan, Williams graduated with a BBA from the state’s private, free-market-oriented Northwood University in 2005. 

Actions

Andy Puzder

About

Andy Puzder served as CEO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of the popular fast-food chains Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, from 2000–17.  Now a member of the national advisory committee to the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF) , he also holds positions at a number of conservative institutions, including serving as board chairman at 2ndVote Advisers, an anti-ESG investment firm; a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation, where his work is focused on anti-ESG activism; a senior fellow at the public policy school at Pepperdine, the private Christian research university in Malibu, California; and a senior fellow at the America First Policy Institute

Puzder told Bloomberg that he “credits David Black, founder of the conservative website 2ndVote, and Black’s wife, former US Congresswoman Diane Black, with his philosophy on corporate activism and keeping social causes out of company decisions.”

After winning the 2016 presidential election, Trump nominated Puzder as his labor secretary despite his outspoken opposition to worker protections such as paid sick leave and expanded eligibility for overtime pay, The president-elect then withdrew his nomination after it became clear that Puzder wouldn’t secure enough votes to be confirmed. In 2012, the businessman was an economic adviser for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, and served as a delegate at the Republican National Convention. 

A frequent public lecturer on business, Puzder has contributed anti-minimum wage content to the online “school” Prager University, where he’s also on the advisory board, and has written a number of books promoting free market principles. He began his career as a commercial trial lawyer after earning a law degree at Washington University in St. Louis. 

In 2022, the SFOF presented Puzder with its Honors Lifetime Achievement Award.

Actions

1792 Exchange

Gold-Level Sponsor

About

1792 Exchange describes its mission as “to develop policy and resources to protect and equip nonprofits, small businesses and philanthropy from ‘woke capitalism,’ to educate Congress and stakeholder organizations about the dangers of ESG (environmental, social, and governance) policies, and to help steer public companies in the United States back to neutral on ideological issues.” The group is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, registered under the name Constitutional Congress with the IRS.

Cleta Mitchell, a former Trump legal advisor and chair of the Conservative Partnership Institute’s Election Integrity Network, is listed as the group’s principal officer. 1792 Exchange President Paul Fitzpatrick told CNBC that Mitchell no longer has a role with the group.

In January 2023, 1792 Exchange named former Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron CEO. “I’m honored to serve as the CEO of the 1792 Exchange, where I will continue meaningful work to put an end to the anti-American ESG agenda that threatens to take over our corporations and change the fabric of our country,” Cameron said in a release.

As of September 2022, 1792 Exchange is a gold-level sponsor of SFOF (which no longer lists its donors on its website).

The organization maintains an online tracking tool known as Spotlight Report, which grades companies on their “policies, practices, and other relevant criteria to determine the likelihood a company will cancel a contract or client, or boycott, divest, or deny services based on views or beliefs.”

1792 Exchange prepares model contracts and shares research on its website for allies in their fight against so-called “woke capitalism.” Here are some examples obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy:

In 2022, 1792 Exchange contracted with Paul Watkins‘s Fusion Law for “program support.” Watkins, a senior legal fellow with Consumers’ Research, is a rightwing operative in the fight against woke capitalism and ESG.

1792 Exchange President Paul Fitzpatrick sits on SFOF’s board of directors.

Operatives

Top Funders

  • Servant Foundation: $525,000 (2021)
  • National Christian Charitable Foundation: $6,000 (2017)

Note: 1792 Exchange is not required by law to disclose its donors. 

Core Financials

  • Total revenue: $2,295,000
  • Total expenses: $1,766,677
  • Net assets: $529,250

Source: 2022 IRS 990 filing

Republican Attorneys General Association

About

First established in 1999, the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) describes itself as “America’s Last Line of Defense” against governmental “overreach,” with a mission to “preserve the rule of law.” The group supports the election and reelection of Republican attorneys general in as many states as possible ”to promote and protect the Constitution, freedom, and opportunity for future generations.” 

As a 527 organization, RAGA can legally accept unlimited donations from individuals and businesses, meaning that corporations contribute millions of dollars each year to encourage state attorneys general to embrace certain legal and policy agendas. According to a 2014 Membership Benefits document obtained by The New York Times, annual fees of $25,000 and above for RAGA membership allow corporate donors to shape legal policy via an “online RAGA Briefing Room” and payments of $125,000 per year allow them to “lead private issue briefings.”

Together with its affiliates the Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF) and the Center for Law and Policy, RAGA runs a cash-for-influence operation that coordinates the official actions of Republican state attorneys general and sells its corporate funders access to those AGs and their staff. Over the years, both pharmaceutical and fossil fuel companies have been the top donors to RAGA.

RAGA has an RLDF ESG Working Group that likely coordinates actions taken by Republican AGs. David Johnson organizes the ESG Working Group, which has held at least one meeting—on July 28, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia, and at least one other call on January 17, 2023. In September 2022, ESG Working Group communications show that it was focused on “investigations” into “Morningstar/Sustainalytics” and the “Net-Zero Banking Alliance.”

On August 19, 2022, RLDF held a “communications call” to update state AGs on actions “across the country regarding ESG investing practices.”

RAGA also held an ESG and State Engagement panel at its 2022 Fall National Meeting in November.

As of January 2023, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall serves as RAGA’s chair, with 27 AGs listed as members on the RAGA site.

Operatives

Top Funders

  • The Concord Fund: $4,000,000
  • U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform: $1,505,200
  • Koch Industries: $755,000
  • Altria Client Services: $500,000

Source: 2022 IRS 8872 Filings

For more information, visit the RAGA page on SourceWatch.

J.P.Morgan

Friends of SFOF Sponsors Level

About

Born in 1837, J. P. Morgan was a financier and American business tycoon who reorganized and consolidated several railroads and major industries in the beginning of the 20th century, leading to the development of corporate giants such as U.S. Steel, International Harvester, and General Electric. Morgan founded his eponymous commercial banking firm in 1871, which eventually merged with Chase Manhattan Bank in 2000. Based on total assets, J. P. Morgan Chase is now the largest multinational financial services bank in the U.S., with revenue of $132.3 billion in 2022. 

As of September 2022, J.P. Morgan is listed among the friends of SFOF sponsors (the organization no longer lists its donors on its website).

Operatives

EVERFI

Friends of SFOF Sponsors Level

About

Founded in 2008, EVERFI is a game-based digital learning platform for students in grades K–12 that advertises a holistic approach to educational content. Courses focus on financial literacy, social/emotional learning, college/career readiness, health and wellness, and early learning. EVERFI’s digital resources, training, and other support are free to teachers, schools, and families, with funding for its platform provided by community partners.

As of September 2022, Everfi is listed among the friends of SFOF sponsors (the organization no longer lists its donors on its website).

Operatives

Credit Union National Association

Friends of SFOF Sponsors Level

About

Founded in 1935 as the CUNA Mutual Society, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is a national and financial services trade association that advocates on behalf of American credit unions in Washington and all 50 states. CUNA services include professional development, services management, and legislative advocacy for issues such as cybersecurity, housing and mortgage lending, consumer protection, examination and supervision, and so forth.

As of September 2022, CUNA is listed among the friends of SFOF sponsors (the organization no longer lists its donors on its website).

Operatives

2ndVote Advisors

Friends of SFOF Sponsors Level

About

2ndVote Advisers (2VA) is an investment firm offering ETFs, indexes, and separately managed accounts to “high net worth and institutional investors.” Although it claims “to take the politics out of investing,” 2VA relies on a research group to “weed out companies that advocate for progressive agendas” and will not support any that make use of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investment criteria. 2VA’s research subsidiary performs social/political audits on companies that are part of the S&P 1500.

Alongside the National Center for Public Policy Research‘s Free Enterprise Project and Job Creators Network Foundation, 2VA launched the Boardroom Initiative in April 2022 to “defend shareholders, employees, and communities from “woke” policies at corporations.”

As of September 2022, 2ndVote Advisers is listed as among the friends of SFOF sponsors (the organization no longer lists its donors on its website).

Operatives

Wells Fargo

Bronze-Level Sponsor

About

Beginning in 1852, Henry Wells and William Fargo used the growing U.S. transportation infrastructure to build a network of banking and shipping centers to move freight across the country. Today, Wells Fargo is a multinational financial services corporation and the fourth largest U.S. bank based on total assets, with revenue of $73.8 billion in 2022.

As of September 2022, Wells Fargo is a bronze-level sponsor of SFOF (which no longer lists its donors on its website).

Operatives

Mischler Financial Group

Bronze-Level Sponsor

About

Founded in 1994, Mischler Financial utilized California’s Disabled Veterans Business Enterprise legislation to form a business profile to support disabled veterans and their entrepreneurial initiatives. Styled as a “boutique investment bank and agency,” the group manages approximately $600 billion in debt and equity capital market underwritings and maintains headquarters in California and Connecticut. 

As of September 2022, Mischler Financial Group is a bronze-level sponsor of SFOF (which no longer lists its donors on its website).

Operatives

Kelmar

Bronze-Level Sponsor

About

Founded in 2001, Kelmar is a professional services company that specializes in assisting state governments with managing  their abandoned and unclaimed property programs, which are often the purview of the state treasurer’s office. Its team of experts with degrees in accounting, business, finance, information systems, and law, along with its proprietary management system KAPS, offer state governments the guidance and  workflow tools needed to return or capitalize on unclaimed property assets.  

As of September 2022, Kelmar is a bronze-level sponsor of SFOF (which no longer lists its donors on its website).

Operatives

Israel Bonds

Bronze-Level Sponsor

About

Since 1951, Israel Bonds (formally known as the Development Corporation for Israel) has issued debt securities to support Israel’s government and economy through underwriter subsidiaries in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. More than 90 U.S. state and municipal pension and treasury funds have invested in Israeli bonds, as have banks, corporations, insurance companies, unions, universities, foundations and synagogues, among others. Raising nearly $50 billion since its inception, Israel Bonds has funded the country’s economic and infrastructure development for over 70 years. 

On April 2, 2024, Israel Bonds hosted an “exclusive economic briefing” for SFOF members that included Israel Accountant General Yali Rothenberg, Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague, New York Comptroller Thomas Dinapoli, and Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar.

As of September 2022, Israel Bonds is a bronze-level sponsor of SFOF (which no longer lists its donors on its website).

Operatives

Entrust Global

Bronze-Level Sponsor

About

Founded in 1973, EnTrust Global manages over $17 billion in assets for more than 500 private and institutional investors. With headquarters in New York and London, the global firm offers customized investment portfolios and emphasizes its co-investment strategy across asset sectors and classes. 

As of September 2022, EnTrust Global is a bronze-level sponsor of SFOF (which no longer lists its donors on its website).

Operatives

Ascensus

Bronze-Level Sponsor

About

Founded in 1980, Ascensus is a financial services company with over $748 billion in administered assets. Partnering with financial institutions, governments, advisors, and employers, it offers “tax advantaged savings plans” designed to help people save for retirement, education, disability, and healthcare needs. Ascensus also describes itself as “the largest independent recordkeeping services partner, third-party administrator, and government and health savings facilitator” in the U.S.

As of September 2022, Ascensus is a bronze-level sponsor of SFOF (which no longer lists its donors on its website).

Operatives

Academy Securities

Bronze-Level Sponsor

About

Academy Securities bills itself as “the first post-9/11 disabled veteran-owned and -operated investment bank,” with 47% of its employees having served in the military. The bank is committed to hiring even more veterans, claiming that the labor market does not understand their unique skill sets. Retired admirals and generals lead the bank’s Geopolitical Intelligence Group, which assesses global investment risks based on regional instabilities, along with foreign policy and national security issues.  

As of September 2022, Academy Securities is a bronze-level sponsor of SFOF (which no longer lists its donors on its website).

Operatives

Visa

Silver-Level Sponsor

About

Since it began as BankAmericard in 1958, Visa has become one of the largest card-paying multinational financial institutions in the world. Much like its longtime competitor Mastercard, the credit card company does not issue credit or set interest rates but instead offers digital payment services on branded products. Visa posted revenue of $29.31 billion in 2022.

As of September 2022, Visa is a silver-level sponsor of SFOF (which no longer lists its donors on its website).

Operatives

Singularis Group

Silver-Level Sponsor

About

Based in Kansas, the Singularis Group is a marketing firm dedicated to “promoting conservatives and conservatism” since its founding in 2000. The firm’s in-house creative team produces direct mailers and other advertising and marketing materials to promote Republican candidates and “right-of-center” advocacy groups throughout the country.

As of September 2022, the Singularis Group is a silver-level sponsor of SFOF (which no longer lists its donors on its website).

Operatives

SAP

Silver-Level Sponsor

About

Founded in 1972 and headquartered in Walldorf, Germany, SAP uses proprietary software for enterprise resource planning (ERP), producing solutions across multiple business functions. SAP software centralizes data, giving clients access to the entirety of the supply-chain process on one platform. The company also integrates once independent departments to improve efficiency and maximize profits.

As of September 2022, SAP is a silver-level sponsor of SFOF (which no longer lists its donors on its website).

Operatives

Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP

Silver-Level Sponsor

About

Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP represents institutional investors in securities litigation, specializing in fraud, corporate takeovers, antitrust, shareholder derivatives, and corporate governance. Based in San Diego, California, the  firm has more than 200 lawyers working in nine offices across the country and has recovered tens of billions of dollars through class action litigation against corporate giants such as Enron, Volkswagen, Twitter, and Facebook, among other high-profile cases.

As of September 2022, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd is a silver-level sponsor of SFOF (which no longer lists its donors on its website).

Operatives

Pomerantz LLP

Silver-Level Sponsor

About

Founded in 1936, Pomerantz is the oldest law firm in the world focused on representing defrauded investors. Its team of attorneys specializes in securities, antitrust, consumer, and class action litigation for clients including pension funds, asset managers, and institutional investors. The firm uses a proprietary system that monitors more than $8 trillion in client assets. Headquartered in New York, Pomerantz has international offices in London, Paris, and Tel Aviv and has shaped legal precedents for recourse in the U.S. with foreign-traded securities.

As of September 2022, Pomerantz is a silver-level sponsor of SFOF (which no longer lists its donors on its website).

Operatives

Kroll Government Solutions

Silver-Level Sponsor

About

Kroll Government Solutions provides regulatory compliance services to state agencies. These include data analytics, unclaimed property examinations, and fraud detection and prevention. Kroll began as an investment research firm in 1932, and expanded into governance, risk, and compliance in 2005. It now operates in 140 countries.

As of September 2022, Kroll Government Solutions is a silver-level sponsor of SFOF (which no longer lists its donors on its website).

Operatives

Invesco

Silver-Level Sponsor

About

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Invesco is an investment management company with offices in over 20 countries. It manages $1.3 billion in assets, offering “a wide range of single-country, regional, and global capabilities across major equity, fixed-income, and alternative asset classes, delivered through a diverse set of investment vehicles.” Invesco posted $6.8 billion in revenue in 2021.

As of September 2022, Invesco is a silver-level sponsor of SFOF (which no longer lists its donors on its website).

Operatives

H&R Block

Silver-Level Sponsor

About

Headquartered in Kansas City, Kansas, H&R Block has provided tax preparation and payroll services to small businesses in the U.S., Canada, and Australia since 1955. Beginning in the 1980s, the company expanded operations to include financial services and mortgages, but by 2011 had sold off these newer ventures. In 2021, H&R Block posted revenue of $3.4 billion. 

As of September 2022, H&R Block is a silver-level sponsor of SFOF (which no longer lists its donors on its website).

Fidelity Investments

Silver-Level Sponsor

About

Founded in 1946 and based in Boston, Massachusetts, Fidelity Investments is a multinational financial services corporation that manages $13.2 trillion in assets for over 40 million investors. The corporation manages mutual funds, index funds, securities exchanges, and insurance, among other wealth management assets, and operates a brokerage firm.    

As of September 2022, Fidelity Investments is a silver-level sponsor of SFOF (which no longer lists its donors on its website).

The Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund contributed $20,000 to SFOF in 2016–21.

Operatives

Mastercard

Gold-Level Sponsor

About

For more than half a century, Mastercard has been one of the world’s leading payment-processing corporations. Its primary service is to process payments between purchasers using Mastercard-branded credit, debit, and prepaid cards and the banks or credit unions issuing these cards. The payment-processing corporation began in 1966 as a conglomeration of bank cards throughout the country after the success of Bank of America’s card, which debuted in 1958. Mastercard posted  revenue of $18.8 billion in 2021. 

As of September 2022, Mastercard is a gold-level sponsor of SFOF (which no longer lists its donors on its website). Mastercard also lists itself as a member of SFOF in public disclosures.

Mastercard’s Vice President of U.S. Government Affairs Tom Gannon was awarded SFOF’s 2019 Economic Freedom Award.

Operatives

iTedium

Gold-Level Sponsor

About

Since 2001, iTedium has provided employee benefits administration through web-based solutions. Based in Kansas City, Kansas (with a secondary office in Tampa, Florida), the company integrates eligibility and enrollment, technological oversight, direct billing, and COBRA administration into a single benefits ecosystem.

As of September 2022, Public Trust Advisors is a gold-level sponsor of SFOF (which no longer lists its donors on its website).

iTedium was a platinum-level sponsor of SFOF’s 2017 Fall National Meeting, and Robert Meyers, iTedium’s founder and CEO, was awarded SFOF’s 2018 Economic Freedom Award.

Operatives

Public Trust Advisors

Diamond-Level Sponsor

About

Based in Denver, Colorado, Public Trust Advisors is an SEC-registered investment adviser founded in 2011 to provide fixed-income investment advisory services to a variety of investors, including in the public sector and local government. The company states its belief that “investment management services for the public sector should grow your community while putting your local government first.” Public Trust Advisors claims that “everything [it does] is in an effort to maximize investment income returned.”

As of September 2022, Public Trust Advisors is a diamond-level sponsor of SFOF (which no longer lists its donors on its website).

Public Trust Advisors also sponsors SFOF meeting events, including its 10th Anniversary Celebration Gala & Banquet, the welcome dinner at the 2021 Fall National Meeting, and the welcome dinner at the 2021 National Meeting.

Public Trust Advisors CEO Tom Jordan was awarded SFOF’s 2020 Economic Freedom Award.

Operatives

Mike Harmon

About 

Mike Harmon served as Kentucky’s auditor of public accounts from 2016 to 2023. Instead of running for reelection in 2023, he ran for governor of Kentucky, and lost in the republican primary. In 2023, Harmon served as auditor-at-large of the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF).

Prior to being elected auditor, Harmon served as a Kentucky state representative from 2002–15. While in the state legislature, he was active in the American Legislative Exchange Council as a state chair.

Harmon holds degrees in math, statistics, and theater from Eastern Kentucky University and has lived in the state for most of his life. 

Actions

  • Signed an Advancing American Freedom coalition letter to U.S. House leaders demanding that “The Woke 401(k) Rule Must Be Repealed” (3/28/23)
  • Signed a letter to Morningstar asking the company to stop its negative ratings of firms connected to Israel. (8/25/22)
  • Signed a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) opposing the proposed rule known as the Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors (6/17/22)
  • Signed an SFOF letter opposing the FDIC proposed principles on climate-related financial risk management for large financial institutions (6/3/22)
  • Signed a letter to the Department of Labor opposing possible agency actions to protect life savings and pensions from threats of climate-related financial risk (5/16/22)
  • Signed a comment letter to the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board regarding ESG practices in the municipal securities market (3/8/22)
  • Signed a letter opposing the proposed Department of Labor rule change entitled Prudence and Loyalty in Selecting Plan Investments and Exercising Shareholder Rights (12/13/21)
  • Signed an SFOF letter urging President Biden to withdraw his nomination of Sarah Bloom Raskin as vice chair for supervision at the Federal Reserve for her “radical banking and economic views” that would “disrupt the private banking sector, reliable energy supplies, and the U.S. economy” (1/31/21)

Recent Campaign Filings

Kentucky’s campaign finance portal is interactive. To view individual contributors and expenditures — which aren’t itemized in the report overviews — please visit the Kentucky Registration of Election Finance website. 

Statements of Financial Interests

John Murante

About 

John Murante is the director of the Nebraska Public Employees Retirement Board, which oversees the agency that administers the state’s retirement plans. He served as Nebraska’s state treasurer from 2019 through October 2023. In 2022, Murante served as national chair of the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF).

Murante was a Nebraska state senator from 2013–19 and was a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council during that period.

As a state senator, Murante also served as the chair of the National Conference of State Legislatures Elections and Redistricting Standing Committee, and on the advisory committee to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

During his most recent run for treasurer, Murante told voters that he had repeatedly “proven [his] conservative credentials,” saying, “I have fought for voter ID to make sure not a single illegal vote is cast in Nebraska despite fierce opposition from the Democrats and liberal media. I opposed tax increases and have fought for tax relief. I have led the fight on pro-life issues, most recently to guarantee tax dollars will not go to organizations like Planned Parenthood that perform abortions.”

Actions

  • Signed an Advancing American Freedom coalition letter to U.S. House leaders demanding that “The Woke 401(k) Rule Must Be Repealed” (3/28/23)
  • Testified in favor of LB 67, a bill seeking to prevent the treasurer from depositing  state funds in accounts “used by financial institutions for social or political causes or objectives” (1/30/23)
  • Presented “Straight Talk” with Stephen Soukup, author of The Dictatorship of Woke Capital: How Political Correctness Captured Big Business, at the SFOF Fall National Meeting (11/14/22)
  • Spoke on an SFOF-sponsored panel titled “Everything States Should Know About the Dangers of ESG” with SFOF CEO Derek Kreifels and Kentucky Treasurer Allison Ball at the 2022 Annual Meeting of the State Policy Network (9/19–22/22)
  • Signed a letter to Morningstar asking the company to stop its negative ratings of firms connected to Israel (8/25/22)
  • Participated in ESG Coalition calls organized by CRC Advisors (6/22/22)
  • Signed a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) opposing the proposed rule known as the Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors (6/17/22)
  • Signed an SFOF letter opposing the FDIC proposed principles on climate-related financial risk management for large financial institutions (6/3/22)
  • Spoke on a panel titled “Taking on the ESG Overlords” at The Heritage Foundation 2022 Resource Bank meeting moderated by Andy Olivastro, vice president of outreach at Heritage, with Will Hild, executive director, Consumers’ Research; Andy Puzder, senior fellow, Heritage Foundation; and Vivek Ramaswamy, founder and executive chairman, Strive Asset Management. During the discussion, Murante said, “I really think ESG is going to be the [critical race theory] of 2023 and 2024…. When people find out about it, they are going to be absolutely livid.” (6/1/22)
  • Signed a letter to the Department of Labor opposing possible agency actions to protect life savings and pensions from threats of climate-related financial risk (5/16/22)
  • Signed a comment letter to the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board regarding ESG practices in the municipal securities market (3/8/22)
  • Hosted a panel discussion at the 2022 SFOF National Meeting titled “China Discussion: Why Should We Be Concerned,” with Vivek Ramaswamy, founder and executive chairman, Strive Asset Management, and Peter Schweizer, author of Red Handed: How American Elites Get Rich Helping China Win (2/16/22)
  • Signed a letter opposing the proposed Department of Labor rule change entitled Prudence and Loyalty in Selecting Plan Investments and Exercising Shareholder Rights (12/13/21)
  • Signed letter to banking industry warning that state financial officers “will be taking collective action in response to the ongoing and growing economic boycott of traditional energy production industries by U.S. financial institutions.” (11/22/21)
  • Signed letter to John Kerry expressing “deep concern with recent reports” that the Biden administration is “privately pressuring U.S. banks and financial institutions to refuse to lend to or invest in coal, oil, and natural gas companies.” (5/25/21)
  • Signed an SFOF letter urging President Biden to withdraw his nomination of Sarah Bloom Raskin as vice chair for supervision at the Federal Reserve based on her “radical banking and economic views,” which they claimed would “disrupt the private banking sector, reliable energy supplies, and the U.S. economy” (1/31/21)
  • Accepted the 2019 SFOF Newcomer of the Year Award (2019)

Recent Campaign Filings

Statements of Financial Interests

Contact Information

Nebraska State Treasurer
State Capitol, Third Floor
P.O. Box 94788
Lincoln, NE 68509-4788
Website: treasurer.nebraska.gov/
Phone: (402) 471-2455
Email: NA

Center for Media and Democracy (CMD)

520 University Ave, Ste 305
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 260-9713
CMD is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit