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Florida Gov Ron DeSantis plans to fight ‘woke CEOs’ at financial services like Paypal and others


Florida Gov Ron DeSantis has set his sights on the next horizon in his government’s battle in the so-called culture wars: “woke CEOs”.

The Republican governor, who is considered to be a likely contender in the 2024 presidential election, said during a press briefing last week that he plans to tackle money transfer giants, such as PayPal, as well as investment funds and banks who try to impose a supposed “woke ideology” on their potential clients. He also hopes to introduce a flurry of legislative and executive initiatives that would hinder these companies’ abilities to “discriminate” against clients based on their political or religious beliefs.

“Do we govern ourselves through our constitution and through our elections or do we have these masters of the universe occupying these commanding heights of society?” Gov DeSantis asked rhetorically on Wednesday while standing in front of a sign emblazoned with the words: “Government of laws. Not woke CEOs.”

Financial services, such as banks, credit card companies and transfer services “should not be colluding with one another to marginalise people that they have political disagreements with,” Gov DeSantis said, before singling out PayPal.

The San Jose, California-based money transfer service has drawn the ire of the firebrand politician most recently because of an allegation that the tech company had frozen the account of a Florida-based non-profit in April after it had fundraised to battle against “gender ideology” being taught in schools.

“[PayPal] cut off people that they basically disagree with,” Tina Descovich, the co-founder of Moms for Liberty said, according to Bloomberg News.

In April, the conservative group had reportedly raised more than $100,000 before their account was frozen, Ms Descovich alleged, claiming that it had “brought our organisation to a screeching halt.”

“They’re using things like social credit scores to be able to marginalise people that they don’t like,” the Florida governor alleged, before citing the specific case of Moms for Liberty.

He also referred back to an earlier instance in February when the online fundraising site GoFundMe shut down the campaigns of people involved in the Canadian trucker protests, where demonstrators actually drove the nation’s capital to a screeching halt.

“We’re also going to make very clear that discrimination, particularly in the financial sector, is not something that we want to see here in the state of Florida,” Gov DeSantis continued, before offering up that other red-dominated states – such as Texas, Tennessee and Arizona, could follow suit.

“We’d have a lot of money, a lot of voting power under management,” he said, noting that the four southern belt states could serve as a “real check” against financial overreach.

The Florida governor’s remarks about the financial sector arrive on the heels of the Security and Exchange Commission proposing new rules that would require publicly traded companies to step up their reporting on ESG – environment, social impact and corporate governance – intel.

The federal agency announced possible changes to company’s filings earlier this year. The outset hope of the changes are that the regulatory watchdog can rein-in some of the unchecked greenwashing – essentially, businesses purporting to meet environmentally friendly goals without ever committing to any real action –  that has taken off as green investments have become increasingly popular.

One of the new proposed rules would require these companies to divulge what possible risks investing with the company would pose with the climate crisis; specifically, delineating how extreme weather events like droughts, hurricanes, flooding or even supply chain crises brought on by extreme weather could impact the company’s value.

Another suggestion that the SEC has floated as a requirement was companies to disclose data about their emissions, both directly (e.g., from pollution created from manufacturing plants) and indirectly (e.g., through the use of electricity used to power an office building).

Details of Gov DeSantis’s executive and legislative proposals have yet to be fully announced, but one detail he made explicitly clear during Wednesday’s address was that he intends to make state retirement managers invest in funds solely based on the investment’s ability to return a profit, and not factor in any other considerations.


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