Calpers, the biggest public-worker pension fund that oversees $310 billion, is worried about several bills in the California state legislature that would force divestment from politically unpopular projects like President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall and the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Two of the fund’s top officers said divesting the stock of companies that profit from those projects could hurt taxpayers and surrender the pension fund’s vote as a major investor, according to the Sacramento Bee.
Trump campaigned on a promise to build a wall along the southern U.S. border with Mexico as a way of clamping down on illegal immigration. Construction and engineering companies have seen their stocks surge since Trump's election victory on the possibility of greater government spending on roads, bridges and airports.
Calpers Chief Executive Marcie Frost and Chief Operating Investment Officer Wylie Tollette told the newspaper that divesting could hurt the fund’s gains for its members, which total 1.8 million people.
“To use the CalPERS portfolio as the political football can be damaging to the interests of the state and the taxpayers, because ultimately the taxpayer ends up footing the bill for the benefits,” Tollette said.
The newspaper lists three bills that are most contentious:
Divesting from companies that work on the Trump administration’s proposed border wall. Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, is behind AB 946.
Divesting from companies that build or finance the Dakota Access Pipeline. Assemblyman Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, wrote AB 20. The CalSTRS board last week voted to oppose the bill unless it’s amended in such a way that it does not demand divestment.
AB 1597 by Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, D-Los Angeles, which would compel CalPERS and CalSTRS to cut their investments in Turkey. The bill is written as a response to the Armenian genocide of the early 20th century.