Treasurer asks for lawsuit filed over ESG discrimination be dismissed


Oklahoma State Treasurer Todd Russ is fighting back against a lawsuit filed against him over his enforcement of Oklahoma’s anti-ESG law that is aimed at financial firms who discriminate against the oil and gas industry.

In a filing with the Oklahoma County District Court where the lawsuit was filed in November 2023 by a retired state worker, Russ asked a judge to dismiss the suit, saying the pensioner did not have legal standing and was not harmed by the enforcement of the Oklahoma Energy Discrimination Elimination Act.

The November lawsuit was filed by Don Keenan on behalf of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association. He argued the Act prevented state-managed pension funds from operating for the “exclusive benefit” of beneficiaries.

Treasurer Russ had responded in December by issuing a statement about the lawsuit. But this was his first legal attempt to have the suit dismissed, saing Keenan was not harmed by the enforcement that resulted in 10 firms being banned from doing business with state pension or retirement systems.

The filing by Russ pointed out that regardless of the enforcement, Keenan still received a “fixed payment each month, and the payments do not fluctuate with the value of the plan or because of the plan fudicuaries’ good or bad investment decisions.”

Russ argued Keenan “lacks standing because he has not—and is not in danger of having—sustained an injury in fact.” The Treasurer also claimed he cannnot and should not be sued because he had one obligation, that of creating the list of financial companies banned from state business.

“He plays no role in the remaining implementation or enforcement of the Act—it is the state government entities themselves, namely the retirement systems, that determine whether to apply one of the statutory exceptions—.”