This year marks the tenth anniversary of the State Fiscal Officers Foundation (SFOF), a 501(c)(3) established to promote fiscally responsible public policy and help states uphold the principles of democracy. . The SFOF partners with state fiscal officers and key private and public sector stakeholders to push back against policies that undermine economic freedom and impede fiscal growth.
Their recent work has focused on educating state treasurers and others about the financial consequences of environmental, social and governance policies, which companies are increasingly adopting so investors can track things like social goals and company leadership. While these policies may seem well-intentioned, the SFOF warns that they could have unintended consequences for Americans.
The roundtable recently spoke with SFOF CEO Derek Kreifels about the organization’s work and priorities for 2022.
What is the mission and main objective of the Foundation of State Financial Officers?
The mission of the State Financial Officers Foundation is to drive fiscally sound public policy by partnering with key stakeholders and educating Americans about the role of responsible financial management in a free market economy.
Our organization equips and empowers state treasurers, state auditors, and other state fiscal officers who are principled and fiscally responsible to be unwavering champions of economic freedom. This network of pro-liberty treasurers and auditors encourages collaboration, shares best practices, and develops models to best advance fiscally responsible practices in their states.
One issue that the SFOF has prioritized this year is training state finance officers on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) policies and how they undermine state economies and erode opportunity. State financial officers are a frontline defense in pushing back against these kinds of far-left ESG policies and protecting public pensions from activist investors.
We’re turning high-profile public finance issues like this into “kitchen table issues” with a new, targeted messaging campaign that will inform and engage the American public about how ESG policies negatively affect them, as well as their personal finances.
Many public funds and state pensions are invested in ESG-focused funds that underperform and fail to deliver on their promises. The mismanagement of these public funds – trillions of dollars – will have detrimental effects on retirees, state employees and business owners. SFOF provides research and monitors state-level attempts to advance these misguided policies.
The SFOF will halt the spread of destructive ESG practices by empowering state financial officers to oppose these policies and raise awareness of their pitfalls.
What was the biggest obstacle in carrying out the work of the SFOF?
The biggest obstacle to the work of SFOF is a lack of awareness in two areas:
First, many people don’t know the names of their congressional representatives, let alone their state financial officers. They are largely unaware that state treasurers and auditors wield enormous power and shape their states’ fiscal policy.
Second, there is a lack of knowledge about ESG policies and how they affect Americans in terms of personal finance. ESG policies have been quietly embraced by top fund managers in the United States, but these fund managers are abusing public naivety and talking about ESG in ways that belie its real and destructive impact.
The SFOF helps state finance officials raise awareness of ESG and its impact on their constituents.
What did you learn along the way that was surprising?
I was surprised at the impact a small group of people standing up for what is right can have. Earlier this year, West Virginia state treasurer and SFOF member Riley Moore took a stand against asset manager BlackRock for its decision to cut coal investments and bet against West Virginia. , the country’s second-largest coal producer, by pushing for carbon neutrality. Meanwhile, BlackRock is investing heavily in China, even as it opens 43 coal-fired power plants. As a result, Moore will no longer allow the company to manage his state’s public funds.
You can read about this in more detail on our website, but Riley’s actions are causing state treasurers and auditors to scrutinize their fund managers’ investment practices and consider similar actions. When state treasurers make decisions that are in the best interests of their constituents, Americans win.
How can people interested in supporting your work do so?
We look forward to partnering with people who believe, like us, that empowering the financial officers of the state is essential to achieving economic freedom and sound financial principles – and pushing back against far-left ESG ideas. .
I would love to discuss how other concerned Americans can get involved with the SFOF and share more details about our work, including the impact we are having and our efforts and goals for 2022 and beyond. .
If you would like to help accelerate the impact of this organization, please contact Derek Kreifels, CEO of the State Financial Officers Foundation, at [email protected].