Earlier this week, DeSantis signed Florida House Bill 3, a move that prohibits officials from investing public or state-controlled money on things like sustainability, climate change or employee diversity and inclusion. It's an extension of policy put in place by DeSantis a year ago when Florida eliminated ESG considerations from state pension investments.
Environmental Social Governance (ESG) is not a new concept but has grown in popularity as businesses, both government and private, have begun to align their politics and investment choices more often -- and often in a strategical manner.
Government contracts being tied to a company's ESG score have been a trend. But last year, the Chipotle Mexican restaurant chain announced its plan to incentivize its executives based on how well they did with regard to the company's ESG goals.
"We don't want any banking or lending practices to be imposing an ideological litmus test on your ability to get a long," DeSantis said at his bill-signing.
Federalism, the central government and state government working in concert, is the way conservatives can push back against an administration so clearly trying to achieve its agenda through ESG, DeSantis' press secretary said on American Family Radio Thursday. Bryan Griffin argues that states have assets that, when put in motion, can be quite effective.
"We've got the Biden administration in office. He recently vetoed a bill that made it through Congress that was counteracting ESG. Essentially, he was paving the way for ESG to continue to have its effect on this country. So when that's the case, this is the moment for federalism to come into action -- and states need to take strong action. States have a lot of financial backing to their names with these pension funds, and these other state repositories are quite large," Griffin told show host Jenna Ellis.
The importance of the trifecta
DeSantis has friendly Republican-led chambers in the legislature, a big advantage as he governs from a conservative perspective. Twenty-one other states have Republican "trifectas" with a governor and both legislative bodies.
DeSantis hasn't stopped his ESG fight at the state's borders but has helped bring together like-minded partners.
"The governor not only has done these protections in Florida for the people of Florida," Griffin explained, "but he has recently put together a coalition of 20 states who are bonding together to utilize and kind of marshal all of their state financial entities against ESG and this kind of larger federal action. It's all to push back against woke banking."
DeSantis' efforts against Washington's punitive politics are about more than ESG. The governor is trying to be forward-thinking and sees a problem on the horizon with personal finances for individuals. Specifically, many believe the efforts to create a Central Bank Digital Currency – also known as the "digital dollar" – would allow the government to monitor how individuals spend their money and who knows what from there?
Griffin was asked if a digital dollar could lead to something like a social credit score, something like an ESG score for individuals?
"The Federal Reserve says they haven't made any decisions about this, but it's very clear," he answered. "The writing's on the wall. If you wanted to institute something like a social credit score or if you wanted to push ideology on people and force compliance in that way, you would have to have control over their money, over their finances.
"The CBDC would be exactly that … a lever of control," Griffin continued. "You could have the government or some faceless bureaucracy basically penalize people for not taking prescribed actions or not following the right ideology or whatnot."
Digital dollar legislation in the works
DeSantis hopes to have legislation before the end of the current session that would say that a U.S. digital dollar would not be recognized within Florida's uniform commercial code.
The popular governor has called these initiatives the "Florida Blueprint," giving a sneak peek at what his presidential platform will look like.
The latest primary poll numbers show DeSantis at 22% behind former President Donald Trump at 56%.
"We have red states -- or states that believe in individual liberties and whatnot -- that are all eager to come on board which makes perfect sense," Griffin said. "But also we're at a point in society where these ideas, ESG, Central Bank digital currencies, these kind of soft power ways that the woke or the Left are pushing their ideology on people, or forcing compliance or forcing behavior."
Griffin said Americans are feeling the woke agenda push from multiple fronts.
"It's coming through captured institutions, from unelected bureaucrats, etcetera. It's going to take a real strong front to counteract these things," he said. "The governor is always on offense. He's doing everything he can to protect people from problems now and problems that we see coming down the pipe in the future. He's taking a bold stance with this stuff in a way no other governor is."