In a letter to Troy University, State Auditor Andrew Sorrell defended Johnson Center for Political Economy executive director Allen Mendenhall and his fight against companies that discriminate using woke environmental, social governance (ESG) criteria.

Sorrell addressed the letter to Troy Chancellor Jack Hawkins and praised the school's Johnson Center for Political Economy executive director Allen Mendenhall, who is working in his individual capacity to explain to state legislators the danger ESG presents to the state.

“Dr. Allen Mendenhall, your Associate Dean and Grady Rosier Professor in the Sorrell College of Business, has come under criticism for the work in his private capacity to defend and support economic freedom in the state of Alabama,” Sorrell wrote. “As you know, Alabama's economic growth over the past several decades has been driven by global industry investment — and future growth depends on maintaining & improving our edge over our neighboring states. Dr. Mendenhall has earned national recognition and accolades for his work in this field and is a true credit to the prestige and influence Troy University has built during your tenure as Chancellor.”

Sorrell continued: “Many of Alabama's peer states have taken recent actions with respect to ESG investing, and I am concerned that failure to act would put our state at an economic disadvantage and could negatively impact our state pension system, as an example. Dr. Mendenhall is both right on the policy and principle of a matter of importance to our state. Criticism of him may come - as it often happens when people stand for what's right.”

Letter to Chancellor Jack H... by Hank Hill

ESG scoring evaluates how a corporation aligns itself with social goals beyond earning a profit for its shareholders. These goals often pertain to environmental sustainability and advocacy for specific social movements, and commitment to "diversity, equity and inclusion" (DEI).

Organizations, such as New York-based finance company MSCI, award ESG scores to corporations supposedly based on their adherence to ESG values. Large asset management groups, like BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street, and banks, such as JPMorgan and Bank of America, use ESG ratings to choose where to direct capital.

Conservative critics have called ESG investing a "wokeness report card" and compared it to China's social credit score system.

Mendenhall spoke to the Alabama Senate Republican Caucus about the threat of ESG on Tuesday afternoon, moments after a hearing before the Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee delayed a hearing for State Sen. Dan Roberts' (R-Mountain Brook) anti-ESG bill until next week.

Sources informed 1819 News that state lawmakers and ESG opponents received harsh backlash from Alabama's big business lobbyists, such as the Business Council of Alabama's (BCA) manager of Government Affairs William Newman and Regions Financial's head of government affairs and economic development Jason Isbell.

Regions previously expressed a commitment to adherence to the ESG agenda and standards set by the controversial World Economic Forum. A spokesman for Regions defended the bank's ESG report to 1819 News in August. When we asked why Regions has an ESG report, who it is designed to appeal to and to respond to the criticism of ESG investing, he declined to comment.

Hawkins and two other trustees at Troy recently came under fire by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) after 1819 News reported on leaked emails in which they discussed vetting research topics at the Johnson Center due to complaints from the BCA and Alabama Power about criticism of the state's economic incentive programs.

FIRE addressed a letter to Troy urging them to respond last week. 1819 News is still waiting for an update from FIRE about whether or not the university complied. 

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