South Carolina State Treasurer Curtis Loftis has made a bold move, announcing on Tuesday that The Walt Disney Corporation will be removed from the state's approved investment list. This decision will ensure that the $105 million in Disney debt instruments currently held by the state will not be replaced once they mature.
In a press release, Loftis cited his concerns with Disney's "political agenda" as the reason for the removal. The treasurer stated, "Disney has abandoned its fiduciary responsibilities to its investors and customers by joining far-left activists in boycotting legal, tax-paying, employment-creating corporations to further Disney's political agenda."
As the administrator of many state programs and the overseer of South Carolina's $70 billion investments, Loftis has a responsibility to the people of his state to make sound financial decisions. He believes that big corporations like Disney should not be using their power and influence to silence opposing viewpoints. "Since America's founding, freedom of speech has been one of its core principles, and Disney should not engage in nefarious practices aimed at silencing those with less power and money," he said.
Loftis has also been a vocal opponent of "ESG" or "environmental, social and governance" investing. He argues that investment decisions should be based on returns, not politics. This is not the first time Loftis has taken a stand against this type of investing. In 2020, he divested state funds from BlackRock, a major asset manager that supports ESG.
While some may view this move as a political one, a spokesman for Loftis' office told the Post and Courier that characterizing it as such would be "disingenuous." The decision to remove Disney from the investment list was based on the company's faltering stock prices and mounting debt, not political beliefs. The spokesman also pointed out that Loftis has a responsibility to make investment decisions in the best interest of the people of South Carolina.
This announcement comes just weeks after former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley urged Disney to leave Florida and bring 70,000+ jobs to her home state. This was in response to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' stance against Disney and other companies that pulled their advertisements from the controversial social media platform Parler.
Loftis' track record as state treasurer cannot be ignored. He has returned over $335 million in unclaimed funds to South Carolinians, more than all previous state treasurers combined. His actions as treasurer align with his beliefs on investing and the responsibility of corporations to their investors and customers.
In the coming weeks, Loftis plans to focus on the state's equity portfolio and continue making decisions that benefit the people of South Carolina. As for Disney, the company's debt instruments will mature as scheduled, and the state will not make any new investments in the company.