In recent years, a worrisome trend has gripped our nation’s capital markets: the proliferation of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria in investment decisions. While it is well-intentioned in concept, ESG investments are less diversified, have higher fees and lower returns and have been hijacked by a small group of liberal elites with their own ideological agendas, thereby undermining the fundamental purpose of our capital markets and discriminating against American fossil fuel companies and other politically unfavorable industries. 

This trend also threatens transparency and financial agency for millions of hardworking Americans when it comes to their investments and retirement security. Our financial services industry should serve everyone, not just those who agree with the leftist agenda of certain Wall Street elites. The insidious nature of ESG means that the savings and pension funds of ordinary citizens can be leveraged to support policies with which they may fundamentally disagree. 

Our goals have always been clear: to ensure that capital markets serve their true purpose, which is facilitating the efficient allocation of capital to its most productive uses and protecting retail investors from sponsors who place political and social agendas ahead of shareholder interests. 

Rep. Andy Barr’s Ensuring Sound Guidance Act will do just this. The bill will restore accountability and transparency in our financial services sector and counteract manipulation of capital markets by liberal ideologies. It encourages fiscal responsibility and strategic investment, instead of succumbing to the pressures of politically driven reforms. 

It is a barricade against the left’s policies that seek to prioritize ESG investing, erode free market capitalism, and disenfranchise shareholders and retail investors. 

To this end, West Virginia Treasurer Riley Moore has worked tirelessly with state lawmakers this year to pass House Bill 2862. This new law mandates that proxy votes tied to West Virginia’s pension funds be cast solely on the basis of the best financial interests of pension fund beneficiaries. This new law will safeguard West Virginia’s pensioners from money managers who wish to leverage their retirement funds to promote political causes, instead of their financial returns. 

Our combined efforts aim to push back against activist asset managers who have weaponized their investing power to advance a narrow, politicized worldview, using other peoples’ money. 

ESG’s unchecked growth threatens the integrity of our financial services industry, and the trust Americans place in the free market. We believe it is time to root out this cancer in our economy and restore freedom in our markets. It is our duty to protect the financial futures of our constituents and to ensure that our economy promotes the productivity, efficiency, and diversity in our great nation’s industries. Let’s put an end to this manipulation of our capital markets and return them to their rightful purpose. 

Andy Barr serves as the United States Congressman for the 6th District of Kentucky and Riley Moore serves as the state Treasurer of West Virginia 

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