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Anti-ESG group launches mobile billboard campaign in DC ahead of expected Biden veto

President Biden
Annabelle Gordon
President Biden speaks during a Medal of Honor ceremony for Ret. U.S. Army Colonel Paris Davis in the East Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Friday, March 3, 2023.

An advocacy group that opposes environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing on Tuesday launched a mobile billboard campaign around Washington, D.C., ahead of President Biden’s expected veto of legislation targeting the investment practice.

Consumers’ Research, a leading anti-ESG group, is funding mobile billboards and a targeted digital ad campaign criticizing the use of the principles among major money managers such as BlackRock. The mobile billboards will circulate around Capitol Hill and downtown D.C.

The mobile billboards will feature images that say “What does ESG really stand for?” with acronyms like “Erasing Savings Growth” and “Elitists Socialists Grifters,” according to images first shared with The Hill.

“I applaud House leadership and the bipartisan efforts in the Senate that pushed this legislation to the finish line,” Will Hild, director of Consumers’ Research, said in a statement to The Hill. “Unfortunately, President Biden is going to use his first veto to further the progressive agenda instead of putting the interest of the American people first.”

Biden is expected in the coming days to veto legislation that would have reversed an administration rule on ESG investing.

The Biden administration had previously issued a rule stating that money managers can weigh climate change and other ESG factors when they make decisions for retirement investments. It replaced a Trump-era rule that the administration said discouraged consideration of ESG factors “even in cases where it is in the financial interest of plans to take such considerations into account.”

The GOP-controlled House had passed the bill to undo the Biden rule, and the Senate voted Wednesday to send the bill to Biden’s desk in a 50-46 vote.

Two Senate Democrats, Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) joined Republicans in opposing the Biden administration policy, saying they felt it was a case of government overreach that would impose a policy agenda on Americans’ retirement accounts.

The White House had previously said Biden would veto the legislation if it passed Congress. In a Statement of Administration Policy, the White House noted the rule was not a mandate, but is intended to ensure retirement plan managers recognize that factors related to ESG can be relevant in analyzing investment decisions.

The legislation and Biden’s subsequent veto is part of a larger debate over ESG investing. Opposition to the practice has become a point of emphasis for conservatives, who view it as part of a broader “woke” agenda among Democrats that infringes on Americans’ rights to make their own decisions.

Supporters of ESG say that following these principles allows people to make money, have a positive impact on the world around them and avoid some financial risks caused by climate change.

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