BlackRock CEO Larry Fink snapped back at claims about the investment giant made by candidates at the Republican debate this week, including accusations that the firm is pushing an ideological agenda on the U.S. and that it holds back energy companies from producing oil.
In a LinkedIn post following the debate, Fink wrote “now I know why they call this the political silly season,” adding that some of the candidates “earned a few more Pinocchios” for peddling misinformation about BlackRock.
The investment giant, and Fink himself, was mentioned several times throughout the debate, most often by Vivek Ramaswamy, who criticized fellow candidate Nikki Haley for accepting support from Fink, whom he called “the king of the woke industrial complex, the ESG movement.” Later in the debate, Ramaswamy claimed that American energy companies including Exxon and Chevron “can’t drill” for oil because of the influence of BlackRock as a shareholder.
BlackRock has come under significant pressure over the past several months at the center of a vocal anti-ESG movement by Republican politicians in the U.S., who have accused the firm of following a social agenda, or of “boycotting” and working to harm energy companies. In an interview earlier this year, Fink addressed the claim that BlackRock boycotts energy companies, pointing out that the firm is actually one of the world’s largest hydrocarbon investors, and that the firm is actively working with major energy companies on their pathway to decarbonization.
In his post following the debate, Fink reiterated these comments in his pushback against Ramaswamy’s claims, noting that “BlackRock clients have more than $170 billion invested in American energy companies and just last month, we announced a joint venture with one of America’s largest energy companies to help develop new technology.”
Florida governor Ron DeSantis also cited BlackRock in an effort to bolster his anti-ESG stance, claiming that the firm is part of a group of “woke corporations” that “want to use economic power to impose a left-wing agenda on this country.”
DeSantis has been among the most vocal anti-ESG advocates, barring fund managers for state pension funds last year from incorporating ESG factors in the investment process, and recently pulling $2 billion from BlackRock over its use of ESG factors. The Florida governor said that he would continue these efforts on a national level as President, adding:
“The next President of the United States needs to be able to go to that office on day one and end ESG.”
Responding to DeSantis’ claims that BlackRock was following an ideological agenda, Fink said that “the only agenda we have is delivering for our clients.”
“BlackRock was mentioned by some candidates in last night’s debate more than inflation or the national debt. That’s a sad commentary on the state of American politics.”