Representatives of Federated Hermes, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo were reportedly due to attend an event held by the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF) this week.
The controversial non-profit, which is associated with the anti-ESG movement in the US, boasts Texas comptroller Glenn Hegar, West Virginia treasurer Riley Moore, Arizona treasurer Kimberly Yee and Kentucky treasurer Allison Ball among its members. All four have been outspoken in their criticisms of ESG, and Hegar and Moore have implemented laws blacklisting financial institutions that appear to boycott the fossil fuel sector.
The foundation has taken a strong stance against ESG on social media and appears to be supporting the pushback against it, which has caused concern across the responsible investment community.
In June, Responsible Investor revealed that Federated Hermes, Invesco, Fidelity Investments and Wells Fargo were named on SFOF’s website among its “sponsors”, while JPMorgan and KKR were flagged as “friends of SFOF sponsors”.
Regarding sponsors, SFOF’s website states: “Our donors and sponsors make an annual, non-refundable commitment to support the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF) and its educational activities. A part of the partnership includes sponsorship of our national meetings.”
Then in August, RI reported that KKR was no longer listed among the “friends of SFOF sponsors”.
And in September, Dennis Gepp, managing director and CIO cash at Federated Hermes (UK), said: “These things come up for annual revision. We will not be renewing our membership and our sponsorship of that organisation.”
At the time, Federated Hermes declined to comment.
However, according to the Centre for Media and Democracy (CMD), four representatives of Federated Hermes had signed up to attend SFOF’s Fall National Meeting in Washington, DC, along with two employees each from JPMorgan and Wells Fargo.
Federated Hermes, JPMorgan, and Wells Fargo declined to comment.
Topics on the agenda for the three-day meeting, which ends today, included “the rising threat from China”, inflation, “true diversity” and anti-ESG investing efforts, the CMD reported.
On Monday, SFOF announced the launch of a new anti-ESG campaign to help Americans “understand how fund managers like BlackRock are using their pension dollars for their own selfish political purpose”.
And an email from SFOF CEO Derek Kreifels to Joy Pidgorodetska, executive assistant for Treasurer Allison Ball, obtained via a Public Records Act request appears to reference CMD’s research.
It said: “We believer the reporter was able to gain access to this information due to a technical error with our registration system. We have absolutely no reason to believe this information was intentionally leaked by any of our attendees.”
At the time of publication, SFOF had not confirmed whether the email was referring to the CMD’s piece.