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Fact-checking Fried, DeSantis claims about Florida’s investments in Russia – PolitiFact

States across the U.S. have scrambled to punish Russia financially over its invasion of Ukraine by drawing down investments into Russia-backed entities.

In Florida, there’s been a lot of talk about state investments with Ru…….

States across the U.S. have scrambled to punish Russia financially over its invasion of Ukraine by drawing down investments into Russia-backed entities.

In Florida, there’s been a lot of talk about state investments with Russian ties — but so far, no action. 

The state’s retirement system, which is the fourth largest in the nation, has more than $195 billion in assets. Before the invasion, Florida’s retirement system held investments in Russian-based entities that were valued at around $300 million, or about 0.15% of all assets. 

Under pressure to redirect those assets, Gov. Ron DeSantis — who pushed for the state to divest from companies that boycotted Israel in the past — has said the Legislature should make the call. 

“We’re going to look at that from a statutory perspective, because I think that’s the cleanest way to do it,” DeSantis said at a March 29 Cabinet meeting. “Because once that’s there, you’ve got to operate within the confines of the law.”

That reticence led his Democratic opponents for re-election to call him soft on Russia, saying DeSantis has more sway over Florida’s investment strategy than he lets on.

“Reminder: Ron DeSantis is choosing to keep $300,000,000 of Florida’s pension invested in Russia, hoping the country rebounds,” Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried tweeted March 30. “He’s betting our pension on Russia.”

PolitiFact decided to find out what could be done to withdraw Florida’s investment in Russia-backed entities.

We learned that the process by which Florida could begin to divest state funds from Russian-based entities is more complex than Fried presented. But there is more DeSantis could do to signal the state’s intentions.

Could Florida divest the millions it holds in Russian investments? 

The assets held by Florida’s retirement system are managed by the State Board of Administration, or SBA.

The SBA is governed by three trustees: DeSantis, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, and Attorney General Ashley Moody.  While Fried holds a statewide position and is a member of the Cabinet, she is not a trustee.

In a March 29 Florida Cabinet meeting, the four state officials heard from SBA interim executive director Lamar Taylor, who addressed the board’s review of Florida’s holdings in countries with emerging markets, like Russia.

The state’s holdings in Russian-based investments include Sherbank of Russia, the country’s largest lender; Rosneft, the Russian energy giant and the country’s third-largest company; and Magnit, one of Russia’s top grocery chains, among others.

Taylor explained that the SBA would continue to assess the situation in Ukraine, but if Florida were “forced to divest” immediately from Russian-based entities, it …….

Source: https://www.politifact.com/article/2022/apr/07/fact-checking-fried-desantis-claims-about-floridas/

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