Schroder, who at the beginning of the year said he would be in with a formal announcement some time in the future, Wednesday proclaimed that in the more than 30 state trust funds over which he has control he would drop investment firm BlackRock products over the next three months. He said he would divest around $800 million worth because of the company’s outspoken support of investment goals that include discriminating against corporations in the fossil fuel sector, noting that introducing politicized investment objectives interferes with a fiduciary responsibility to maximize the value of state deposits on behalf of its citizens.
The announcement was very welcome, if not long overdue. Almost a year ago West Virginia made the same move, adding that BlackRock’s problematic Chinese holdings contributed to the decision, and like Louisiana is a part of a coalition of states that pledged to investigate investment firms that practiced viewpoint discrimination. That move came about a month after the pledge, with its subject matter Schroder saying back then he would review and take action.
Why West Virginia took a month yet Schroder took ten to act is unknown, but the timing of his announcement, just after Landry’s, is interesting. Rival politicians often duel each other for media attention, with perhaps the most famous recent gubernatorial examples being in 2007 Republican former Sen. David Vitter revealing he committed a “serious sin,” believed to be dallying with prostitutes, on the same day GOP former Gov. Bobby Jindal formally announced for governor, and then over eight years later Jindal telling the world he would end his presidential campaign in the middle of Vitter’s trying to make up ground during the gubernatorial runoff that he lost.
If releasing the statement was intended by Schroder to blunt the publicity impact of Landry’s confirmation, it only worked in some quarters. The leftist news and opinion site Louisiana Illuminator went with the story (written in a tone of “what-in-the-world-is-going-on-here”) with none about Landry’s entrance, which would seem odd as it ran a piece on a much smaller deal, Republican state Rep. Scott McKnight’s entry into the spot Schroder was vacating, months ago. Then again, while the site surely isn’t a fan of Schroder’s, it reacts to Landry like a vampire unnerved by two strands of garlic bulbs made into the shape of a cross, so the snub seems consistent.
But even as Fox Business gave Schroder’s statement national attention, Landry received even more from the network, grabbing air time on its popular host Tucker Carlson’s show. Closer to home, most other media outlets ran with the Landry story and not the Schroder one.
It will be interesting to see what comes out of Landry’s camp in the future when Schroder (if? he trailed Landry and others badly in a dated poll so, unless that changes, he might want to pull the plug) makes it formal. Only 372, maybe 407, days to go until it’s all decided.