JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Florida holds $300 million in Russian-domicile investments.
The Florida Senate adopted a resolution condemning the Russian invasion and pledging ‘unwavering support’ for Ukraine.
Nikki Fried is the only cabinet member to call for the state to devest. The Gov., CFO, and Attorney General have remained silent on the proposition.
Calls are growing for the Governor and Cabinet to cut Florida’s financial ties with Russia, in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The state has an estimated $300 million invested in assets with Russian ties.
Of the state’s $195 billion in assets the $300 million in Russian-domiciled investments account for less than two-tenths of a percent of the portfolio, but Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has argued keeping those financial ties sends the wrong message.
“If we don’t divest our investments from Russia, what this signals is that we are okay with this authoritarian regime,” said Fried.
She’s called for the state to drop its Russian investments, the Governor and other Cabinet members haven’t endorsed the idea.
“There is a flurry of activity occurring where sanctions are being issued left and right, which affects SBA’s activities, so we’re monitoring an incredibly dynamic situation - and no one has taken anything off the table at this point,” said Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis in an emailed statement Tuesday.
The Governor’s Office and the office of Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody both referred us to the State Board of Administration, which is currently evaluating the option.
We asked the SBA for an update on that process.
“As a matter of policy, we don’t make forward-looking statements regarding investment decisions of any kind. However, we do comply with applicable laws and any sanctions required by the U.S. government. We are in discussions with our managers and in the process of evaluating the ever-evolving regulatory and economic landscape regarding any holdings in Russia and will adjust our holdings accordingly,” said SBA Director of Communications Dennis MacKee Tuesday.
We also asked for a breakdown of those investments but didn’t receive one in time for this story.
“We should be one of the first states that should have shown leadership on this issue and unfortunately I have not seen the SBA move as fast as they should,” said Fried.
Jacksonville resident and former Attaché for the Embassy of Ukraine in the US Natalia Soleyva told us she believes Florida pulling its investments would make a real impact.
“Businesses in Russian federation feel that they’re paying a high price for something that their President is doing right now in Ukraine,” said Soleyva.
Governor Ron DeSantis suggested Monday that it’s the Biden Administration that has been too weak on Russia, by not sanctioning the country’s oil industry.
“Hit him where it counts… hit him with energy. The problem with that with Biden is he has stepped on the neck of our domestic energy here in the United States. We should have Keystone reactivated in the United States,” said DeSantis during a press conference Monday.
On Tuesday, the Florida Senate sent a symbolic gesture by adopting a resolution backing Ukraine.
“The Florida Senate expresses its unwavering support for the Ukrainian people in this extraordinary time,” said State Senator Tina Polsky (D-Boca Raton).
Polsky sponsored the resolution but told us she believes more concrete action should be taken.
“And with the hard-earned money of our state employees and the strong pension fund that we have, we shouldn’t be investing in anything that’s going to help the Russian government,” said Poslky.
And Senator Polsky told us she’s going to look at what, if anything, can be done on the legislative side to put pressure on the Russian Government.
Still, the fastest way to pull the state’s Russian assets lies in the hands of the Governor and Cabinet.
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