by Harold Hutchison
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida fired back at Republican critics of his efforts to rein in big businesses, calling them “corporatists.”
DeSantis signed legislation May 2 that prohibited state agencies and local governments from considering Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors when issuing bonds, barred banks from considering “social credit” when making loan decisions and prohibited discrimination on the basis of political, social or religious ideology. Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and former President Donald Trump have criticized DeSantis, a potential 2024 candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, over the feud with Disney that started after DeSantis signed parental rights legislation in March 2022 over the company’s opposition.
“What is a free market? Does an absence of government necessarily mean free market?” DeSantis asked during an interview with The American Conservative. “I would say, sometimes, absence of government could just devolve into corporatism, and I think too many people on the right have basically been corporatists over the years.”
— Rachel Bovard (@rachelbovard) May 15, 2023
ESG, also known as “sustainable investing,” according to the Corporate Finance Institute, can factor in corporate policies on gun control, environmental issues, abortion or other issues in addition to or instead of strictly looking at a corporation’s profitability.
DeSantis also approved legislation that ended Disney’s control over the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Disney sued DeSantis over the legislation that ended the company’s control over the Reedy Creek Improvement District April 26 after the company reportedly tried to undermine the legislation DeSantis signed.
DeSantis justified the push by noting corporate involvement in political issues.
“If you look at some of these companies, like Google, and look at the footprint that they have, they don’t necessarily offend historical antitrust law because the antitrust law is focusing on jacking up prices on people,” DeSantis said. “But I would say they’re exercising way more power than Standard Oil ever did, or any of the trust of the early 20th century.”
“So the question is, is it okay to have a handful of private power centers that really, really dominate our society? And is it appropriate to have something like an antitrust principle applied there?” DeSantis asked. “I think it probably would be appropriate.”
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Harold Hutchison is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Ron DeSantis” by Governor Ron DeSantis.