INVESTMENT HELL: Florida’s Russia problem just got a whole lot worse

INVESTMENT HELL: Florida's Russia problem just got a whole lot worse

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis refused to divest $300 million in Russian assets, and now the state’s pension fund is $200 million lighter for it. Democratic Rep. Andrew Learned shed light on the financial faux pas after calls to end Florida’s holdings in the oligarch-friendly country went unheeded. Learned took to Twitter to call the GOP silence out.

A week after Russia invaded Ukraine and the U.S. government imposed sanctions, Learned drafted amended legislation to get the state out of a volatile financial situation and preserve the Florida Retirement System. Here’s what Learned’s legislation proposed:

“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the State Board of Administration is prohibited from investing any assets of the Florida Retirement System in any financial institution or company domiciled in the United States or any foreign subsidiary of a company domiciled in the United States which, directly or through the United States or foreign subsidiary, extends credit of any kind or character, advances funds in any manner, or purchases or trades any goods or services with the government of the Russian Federation or any company doing business with the government of the Russian Federation. The term “government of the Russian Federation” means the government of the Russian Federation, its agencies or instrumentalities, or any company that is majority-owned or controlled by the government of the Russian Federation, a member of the State Duma, or a member of the Council of Ministers.”

Florida’s retirement system is one of the largest in the country, with a base of over a million public employees. And though the State Board of Administration manages the fund, Governor Ron DeSantis is the chair. He, along with Attorney General Ashley Moody and the Chief Financial Officer, Jimmy Patronis, have the final say on investment decisions.

Back on March 11th, Democrats signed a letter calling for the State Board of Administration to act. Among those Democrats signing the letter were Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz, Democratic Gubernatorial hopeful Charlie Crist, and Val Demings – the Democratic Senate candidate challenging the flip-flopping Republican incumbent, Marco Rubio. No member of the GOP would sign the letter.

With Florida now being acknowledged as the least affordable place to live in the country, and with the shutting out of teachers from the pension fund, the state’s once-reliable safety net isn’t very safe anymore.

And Florida’s citizens have only their oddly Putin-supporting Governor Ron DeSantis and his Republican cronies to blame for their horrendous and morally questionable investment decision.

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick

RELATED STORY: IN THE RED: Kentucky, Florida face the consequences of investments in Russia

Ty Ross

News journalist for Washington Press and Occupy Democrats.