Republican lawmakers are vowing to crack down on big investment managers pushing climate and social agendas. But the Wall Street giants are finding they have few defenders in Washington to help fend off the assault.
The multitrillion-dollar asset managers — primarily BlackRock and its outspoken CEO Larry Fink, Vanguard and State Street — aren’t getting cover from major business trade groups whose members are divided on the issue. And they have no Republican allies, according to interviews with nearly a dozen industry representatives, lawmakers and climate advocates.
Some industry players feeling the heat are privately agitating for a more unified front against the attacks. But Republicans leading what they call the “anti-woke” charge in Congress said they’re feeling little resistance from business lobbying groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The GOP lawmakers say they have growing evidence that their effort is getting traction, with Vanguard walking away from an international climate change group in December.
“There is a fight within the banks and within the asset management firms about this,” Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.), one of the pressure campaign’s top voices on Capitol Hill, said. “I am observing conflicting messages from within these companies, and what I’m asking is for these banks and asset managers to purge these people who want to bring their politics into the operations of these businesses.”
The political isolation of the world’s largest money managers is a window into how the GOP’s recent pivot to populism on Big Business can paralyze industry lobbying efforts. It’s also forcing companies to rethink how they message environmental and social goals, even if they’re aimed at satisfying customers, investors and employees.
A growing list of major companies — not just limited to finance — are facing ire from Republican officials at the state and federal levels for their stances on climate and issues such as race, voting rights and guns. [Continue reading…]