Utah Gov. Spencer Cox on Tuesday called President Joe Biden’s recent veto
of a bill targeting environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in investments “deeply disappointing,” and a “backdoor” way for the White
House to bypass Congress.
It’s the latest public criticism from Cox regarding ESG factors being considered by investors. Utah recently became one of nearly 20 states
opposing Biden’s use of ESG in federal retirement funds.
“It affects regular people. Blue collar workers who are planning for their retirement will not have as much money because the fiduciaries don’t have
to focus on the returns, they get to focus on these other things,” Cox
told the hosts of Fox Business’ “The Big Money Show.”
The bill that Biden vetoed sought to overturn a Department of Labor rule
that allows retirement plan fiduciaries to take ESG factors into
consideration, as opposed to making decisions solely on returns when
investing money saved in pensions and retirement plans.
The veto was blasted by Republicans and the three Democrats who supported
it, including West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who said the rule “will
weaken our energy, national and economic security, while jeopardizing the
hard earned retirement savings of 150 million West Virginians and
The underlying principle of ESG is that instead of focusing solely on
profit, investors should take other things into consideration, like a
company’s environmental impact or perceived social harm.
It’s mostly Republican critics who warn that it could lower investment
returns and impact retirement savings, labelling it “woke capitalism.”
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney on Monday said “Democrats can’t get their radical policies through Congress, so they hope asset managers will do the work
That was essentially Cox’s argument Tuesday, telling the Fox Business
hosts the rule allows “for riskier investments because of a political ideology.”
“We’ve got to get politics out of everything in our lives. It’s just not healthy. Let’s keep politics in politics, let’s get it out of our banking system, let’s get it out of our retirement account, let’s get it out of
our businesses,” Cox said, a common refrain from the governor.
‘Republicans are wrong about Democrats and Democrats are wrong about Republicans,’ Gov. Cox tells students in Tooele
Biden, explaining his veto, said the bill “would risk your retirement
savings by making it illegal to consider risk factors MAGA House
Republicans don’t like.” Cox said that isn’t true.
“What the president is saying is that fiduciaries, the people who manage
the money, the retirement accounts of individuals in this country, don’t
have to worry about the returns that’s making money so that you can
actually retire, they can focus on these other things,” he told the hosts
of Fox Business.
Cox recently signed several ESG-related bills into law, including HB449
which prohibits companies from coordinating “to intentionally destroy
certain companies” or industries, according to the bill’s text. He also
signed SB96, which would require “a public entity to invest public funds
in accordance with the prudent investor rule” and SB97, a companion bill
to bar public entities from contracting with companies that “engage in
certain boycott actions.”
Those bills “will make that kind of decision making, as it has always
been, illegal in the state of Utah,” Cox told the Fox Business hosts
Cox also signed on to a letter alongside the 18 other governors pushing
back on Biden’s support of ESG. The other states include Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee,
West Virginia and Wyoming.