Capital Ideas: Doubts Surround BlackRock’s Political Spending Policy

by: Garima Gupta

On January 25th 2021, state treasurers and trustees of public pension funds and retirement savings plans with collectively $1 trillion in assets wrote an open letter to BlackRock raising their concerns over BlackRock’s failure to specify the purpose of its $85,000 political contribution to legislators who have denied the results of the November 2020 presidential election. The letter concluded with five open questions addressed to BlackRock around disclosure of corporate political spending. It will be interesting to see BlackRock’s response and what measures they take in the future.                                                                                                                                          

SovereigNet Guest Author Scott E. Kalb has written an article along similar lines where he argues that there are three ways in which the asset allocators can use their ESG frameworks to take effective action towards disclosure and accountability policies on corporate political spending. He urges all asset owners to revise their ESG criteria to include screening information on political spending as well as engage with portfolio companies and asset managers on political spending issues. He argues that asset managers can advocate for better disclosure and accountability on political spending in order to ensure better transparency around corporate spending.

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