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Senators of the Republican Party warn law firms against advising clients on ESG

Updated: Dec 21, 2022

A group of Republican Senators has sent letters to more than 50 of the largest law firms in the United States, cautioning them about the advice they provide to clients regarding ESG initiatives and advising them to preserve documents related to clients' ESG practices in preparation for congressional investigations of ESG-related antitrust violations.

In the letters, Republican Senators Tom Cotton (Arkansas), Marsha Blackburn (Tennessee), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Mike Lee (Utah), and Marco Rubio (Florida) assert that the "ESG movement attempts to weaponize corporations to reshape society in ways that Americans would never support at the ballot box."

The letters represent the most recent step in an ongoing anti-ESG campaign by Republican legislators in the United States. In August, 19 Attorneys General signed a letter accusing BlackRock of operating with "mixed objectives" in its pursuit of an anti-fossil fuel and pro-net zero agenda by pursuing a "social purpose" that was not linked with a concentration on financial returns. Florida recently approved a resolution prohibiting the use of ESG factors by fund managers for its $228 billion in pension funds, while Texas published a list of funds earmarked for potential divestiture due to their outstanding ESG credentials and support for net zero investment and activism.

The letters express "particular concern" that there is a "collusive effort to restrict the supply of coal, oil, and gas," resulting in higher energy costs and "empower[ing] America's adversaries," and warn the companies that Congress intends to "increasingly use its oversight powers to investigate the institutionalised antitrust violations being committed in the name of ESG."

Senators composed:

Your firm has an obligation to adequately warn customers of the dangers they suffer by participating in climate cartels and other ill-advised ESG schemes, even though firms would be advisable to consult a lawyer before pursuing ESG activities.

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