Advancing American Freedom (AAF) yesterday announced a Freedom of Information Request (FOIA) seeking information related to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) political bias in the Biden Administration’s U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
”ESG ratings empower shadowy, unelected bureaucrats and activists to rate companies based on their adherence to left-wing values,” said AAF Executive Director Paul Teller. “ESG scores potentially place Americans at severe financial risk because they are inherently political, completely subjective, and lack transparency. AAF is determined to shine a light on these progressive policies and restore our free markets.”
On May 31, 2022, AAF submitted a FOIA request to the SEC seeking documents pertaining to potential conflicts of interest present in offering ESG-related products and services.
These conflicts of interest were identified in a January 2022 report compiled by SEC staff, who identified “several areas of potential risk to [credit ratings agencies]” including “the potential risk for conflicts of interest if a [credit rating agency] offers ratings and non-ratings ESG products and services.”
AAF has serious concerns that providing ESG-related products and services conflict with the credit rating agencies’ goals of credibility and reliability and believes that credit rating agencies (or Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organizations, NRSROs) should be fully transparent about how they determine ESG factors and the specific social and political goals and ideologies they pursue. The current lack of transparency is a potential reason that Russian energy companies Gazprom and Rosneft received more favorable ESG scores from S&P than their American counterparts (Exxon and Chevron), even though the Russian government owns or exercises a plurality of shares of the former companies.
This FOIA request intends to provide the American public with information about the SEC’s oversight of ESG-related products and services, and to provide the American public with the information necessary to understand whether the SEC under the Biden Administration is placing progressive political and social policy goals over the economic interest of the American people.
AAF specifically seeks the release of the following records:
Any and all records of policy or procedure directives, guidance documents, memoranda, or similar records created by the SEC or its staff relating to or concerning the oversight of ESG-related products and services, including records of communications between the SEC and other Executive Departments or Agencies, the White House, or the Executive Office of the President;
Any and all records of policy or procedure directives, guidance documents, memoranda, or similar records, relating to, concerning, governing, or informing the determination of the SEC staff in its January 2022 report that the offering of ESG-related products and services by NRSROs presents the potential risk for conflicts of interest; and
Any and all records relating to or concerning communications between the SEC (including those communications where the SEC is copied or blind copied) and any other entity concerning the potential risk for conflicts of interest if an NRSRO offers ESG products and services, including any such disclosures from NRSROs or their affiliates to the SEC or inquiries from the SEC to NRSROs or their affiliates about potential conflicts of interest.
AAF founder and former Vice President Mike Pence recently wrote a Wall Street Journal op-Ed titled, “Republicans Can Stop ESG Political Bias.” The op-Ed implores states to “pass model legislation developed by the American Legislative Exchange Council requiring government pension-fund managers to vote the state’s shares, rather than delegating that authority to huge Wall Street firms” and suggests that “[s]tate and local governments should entrust their money to managers that don’t work against their residents’ best interests.”
View the full AAF FOIA Request HERE.
Advancing American Freedom AAF
Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) political bias
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
credit ratings agencies
progressive policy goals