BlackRock boycotted by Indiana over ESG issues


BlackRock just ran into more boycott problems. After being on Oklahoma’s list of firms blacklisted from handling state pension investments, the huge investment firm was just put on a watchlist by Indiana Treasurer Daniel Elliott.

He took the steps as part of Indiana’s 2023 law banning state pension funds from investing with firms that consider environmental, social and/or governmental factors in their investment decisions. The Indiana law is not an exact duplicate of Oklahoma’s 2022 law but it’s close.

The Oklahoma Act was aimed at firms that discriminated against the oil and gas industry.

The Indy Star reported BlackRock was put on the treasurer’s watchlist because it made a commitment to environmentally and socially conscious investing as defined by the new Indiana law. It was also the first time Indiana had flagged an asset manager since the law was signed by the governor.

BlackRock defended its investment strategies and said it remains committed to Indiana.

The action by the Indiana treasurer drew immediate criticism from the organization Alliance for Prosperity and a Secure Retirement.

“Today’s decision by Indiana Treasurer Daniel Elliott to create an investment firm blacklist puts politics over pensions and investment performance. Indiana state officials have plenty of evidence that shows the legally questionable approach of blacklisting investment firms could result in financial setbacks for the state’s pension plans.”

The Alliance pointed to a report by the Indiana Legislative Services Agency that estimated the boycott had the potential to cut a staggering $6.7 billion from public pension returns.

The same kind of argument was made in a lawsuit filed last year by the Oklahoma Public Employees Association and retiree Don Keenan. The lawsuit resulted in an Oklahoma County Judge’s ruling to suspend enforcement of the Act.