West Virginia Treasurer Riley Moore has made the fight against ESG a top priority, and he now hopes to take that fight into the halls of Congress.
Moore entered the 2024 contest this week, seeking the Republican nomination to represent the state’s 2nd Circuit. Moore made headlines nationally by using the power of the typically low-key role of Treasurer to crack down on the environmental, social and governance push of corporate and financial institutions.
Moore told that Washington Examiner during an interview on Tuesday that he hopes to continue his anti-ESG crusade at the federal level should he be selected for Congress.
“Look, I’ve been doing this for two years, and when I get there it’s going to be four years of dealing with it on a daily basis,” Moore said of ESG. “So I’m going to have a wealth of experience when I come into Congress, if I’m lucky enough to be elected, that can help and inform this ESG program that we’re trying to defeat.”
REPUBLICANS WANT TO MAKE ESG LIABLE FOR DEMOCRATS IN 2024
While proponents of ESG see it as a way for finance and business to effect social change, such as by mitigating the effects of climate change, Moore and Republicans see the push as an attempt to distort the free market and even the culture of the United States capital and influence.
“Certainly there have been individuals and elected officials up the hill who have spoken about ESG, but I don’t think there is a full understanding of how pervasive this is, how dangerous it is and what steps need to be taken to somehow fill it in in some of the cracks here where the states obviously can’t,” he said.
Moore has taken several actions against ESG in recent years, and many other GOP state treasurers have followed suit.
“I was the first state treasurer in the country to separate from BlackRock, the first state treasurer in the country to issue a restricted list of financial institutions,” Moore said.
Earlier this year, Moore announced his state would stop using a BlackRock mutual fund. He said BlackRock has pushed companies to pursue investment strategies that harm the fossil fuel industry while increasing investments in Chinese companies that run counter to US interests and damage his state’s manufacturing base.
Over the summer, his office also declared five financial institutions out of eligible government banking contracts on the grounds that they “boycott” fossil-fuel companies.
The restricted financial institutions are BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo – many of the largest financial companies in the world. When the blacklist went into effect, all five companies became ineligible for government contracts and all existing contracts were voided. The news meant the companies would lose access to $18 billion in annual inflows and outflows.
Moore said the issue of ESG has garnered tremendous attention from voters across the state. Interest in the issue has particularly grown in the past year, as Republican officials across the country like Moore began targeting it more specifically.
“When I first started speaking about ESG, people looked at me like I was wearing a tinfoil hat,” Moore said, “but now, in the last two years and where we’re at, I speak at a lot of dinners around the county across the state, and there aren’t too many people right now that haven’t heard of it.”
Moore said if elected to Congress he would look at rating agencies as some now have ESG considerations in bond ratings – something he has described as “economic blackmail”.
Additionally, Moore said he hopes to push for aggressive oversight in the ESG area, which should be voted more broadly to serve the 2nd District.
“There’s still a lot of digging to do here,” Moore said. “I think there’s a lot of research that needs to be done and a lot of things that need to be brought to light as to what’s actually happening in those boardrooms and at the senior leadership level where these decisions about this ESG investment are being made and they’re violating their fiduciary responsibilities.”
Among other priorities, Moore said he is well placed to champion development in his district, particularly in the aerospace and defense industries. He also said that the district’s borders themselves are special to him.
He pointed out that he was born in Morgantown in the district and now resides in the eastern panhandle, which extends to the Washington, DC suburbs. The borough also includes the North Panhandle, which shoots up toward Pittsburgh and has been home to the Moore family for generations.
“This district is really like a dream to me,” Moore said.
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Moore said he was considering a run against Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) but decided a run for House made the most sense for him right now. It’s worth noting that Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) has already thrown his hat in the Senate race, announcing just days ago that he will be running as the GOP’s nominee to oust Manchin in 2024 .
“I believe in voicing your intentions early and clearly and letting people know,” Moore said of his decision to announce his candidacy so far in advance.