FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 13, 2023
Contact: David Armiak, firstname.lastname@example.org
Republican treasurers, auditors, and financial officers in 28 states have been weaponized by dark money groups and right-wing operatives under the umbrella of the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF) to help manufacture a crisis around the consideration of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in business and investing practices.
Today, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) is launching a new website, SFOFExposed.org, to expose the group’s role in legitimizing this latest front in the Right’s culture wars.
SFOF has emerged on the political scene in recent years as a key player in expanding efforts to use the power of state governments to blacklist companies that include ESG factors in their private business decision making. Since 2020, more than 200 bills have been introduced in 32 states to attack ESG, such as blocking public pension funds from investing in and withholding public contracts from firms that take into consideration climate risks, diversity, gun safety, and other social justice issues when making business decisions.
Many of these bills target citizens’ First Amendment rights and are modeled after legislation blacklisting companies that participate in the BDS (boycott, divest, and sanctions) movement critical of Israel’s treatment of Palestinans, which has been promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and passed in some form in 33 states.
SFOF connects Republican state treasurers and auditors in 28 states with industry and dark money groups in the same way that ALEC does for state legislators. The two organizations have close ties in terms of agendas and leadership.
Drawing on close to two years of investigative research by CMD’s team, SFOF Exposed provides an easily accessible resource for journalists, researchers, and citizen activists to identify the financial officers, operatives, groups, and funders involved in the campaign to politicize ESG practices. Presenting this information on a single site offers a way to better understand the financial interests behind these efforts and how SFOF coordinates and works with like-minded groups.
The site also includes data on the individuals and groups lobbying for anti-ESG bills contributed by independent researcher Connor Gibson.
Features of the new SFOF Exposed site include:
- profile pages on state treasurers, auditors, and financial officers who are members of the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF)
- profile pages on right-wing operatives, groups, and funders coordinating with SFOF members.
- state pages detailing local SFOF members, groups, operatives, lobbyists, and anti-ESG bills and laws
- a document library with hundreds of emails, campaign filings, presentations, speeches, and other files that shed light on the SFOF network obtained by CMD through dozens of records requests and other means
- a news page tracking the latest news stories on SFOF activities
CMD’s research team will continually update the site as additional information is uncovered and will add a relationship map soon.