Oklahoma is the latest state to ban doing business with financial companies accused of boycotting the oil and gas industry. The state’s Energy Discrimination Elimination Act requires the Oklahoma State Treasurer’s office to compile a blacklist of financial companies. To do this, the Treasurer’s Office sent a survey to more than 100 companies that handle the state’s pension and retirement funds. Oklahoma pension funds and other state and local agencies are not allowed to contract with blacklisted companies unless the firms end their alleged oil and gas boycotts. While the blacklist has helped Oklahoma politicians raise their national profiles by striking back against “woke” financial institutions, the real-world effects of the law have raised concerns among some of the state’s pension fund heads.
Here are five takeaways from The Frontier’s in-depth reporting
- Seven of the 13 the firms that landed on Oklahoma’s blacklist do not meet the law’s definition of “financial companies,” because they are not publicly-traded.
- The Treasurer’s Office does not have a scoring system to consistently evaluate companies’ responses to its questionnaire. Much of how those responses were evaluated were through Oklahoma State Treasurer Todd Russ’s discretion. Russ said one of the main things he looked at when deciding whether to include companies on the blacklist was how financial firms voted at energy company shareholder meetings on behalf of their clients.
- The attorney for several of the state’s pension fund systems, as well as the directors of at least three retirement systems, says the State Treasurer’s office has been unresponsive to their questions and concerns about how to apply the law to their money managers and financial services companies. Some of their concerns include how non-public companies ended up on the list, the lack of any written criteria and appeals process.
- The State Treasurer’s office contracts with at least two blacklisted banks involved in large-scale purchasing and payment systems for the state. The treasurer’s office uses JPMorgan Chase for nearly all state financial disbursements, including almost all state payroll and retirement payments. Bank of America is contracted to provide banking services for the state’s payment card system, which numerous state agencies use for most small purchases. The Energy Discrimination Elimination Act prohibits state agencies from contracting with blacklisted firms, with some caveats, but Russ did not say whether his office would end its relationship with either bank.
Oklahoma’s Energy Discrimination Elimination Act was not actually written by Oklahoma lawmakers, and is nearly a word-for-word copy of a law passed in 2021 by Texas and later introduced by the American Legislative Exchange Council.