On 7/6/2017 4:57 AM, jat wrote: part of the story as usual
Florida may drop ties to businesses linked to Venezuela
By GARY FINEOUT Associated Press
Amid an escalating political crisis in Venezuela, Florida may sever its
connections to businesses that support the South American country's
Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday announced that he will ask the trustees of
Florida's pension plan to go along with a proposal that targets
businesses helping the regime of President Nicolas Maduro. He and other
Florida politicians, including U.S Sen. Marco Rubio, have been highly
critical of Maduro in the past few months.
Scott announced the plan the same day that pro-government militias
wielding wooden sticks and metal bars stormed congress and began
attacking opposition lawmakers during a special session coinciding with
Venezuela's independence day.
"Floridians stand with the people of Venezuela as they fight for their
freedom, and as a state, we must not provide any support for Maduro and
his thugs," Scott said in a statement.
In the past three months, security forces have clashed with protesters
who accuse the government of trying to establish a dictatorship by
jailing foes, pushing aside the opposition-controlled legislature and
rewriting the constitution to avoid fair elections.
The Scott administration did not provide any details of the new proposal
but, depending on its wording, it could force the state to stop doing
business with Goldman Sachs and others companies tied to Venezuela.
The trustees of the State Board of Administration, a panel that includes
Scott as well as Attorney General Pam Bondi and Chief Financial Officer
Jimmy Patronis, will consider the plan in August. The trustees oversee
the Florida Retirement System, the state-run pension plan worth roughly
Goldman Sachs earlier this year acquired $2.8 billion in bonds at a
steeply discounted price that had been initially issued by the
Venezuela-run oil company. The bank manages some of the state's
investments, and the state owns stock in the company. Goldman Sachs did
not respond to questions about Scott's proposal, but has previously
issued statements saying it bought the bonds through a broker.
Scott's move came just hours after State Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, a
Miami Democrat, said he would file legislation for the 2018 legislative
session that would force the state to drop its investments in any
companies doing business with the Maduro regime. Rodriguez called
Scott's announcement "good news."
"We have a choice on where to invest funds and who to help manage those
funds," Rodriguez said. "If we have a choice and a company like Goldman
Sachs has decided to help prop up the Maduro regime, why would we want
taxpayers to participate in that?"
Florida already has laws that prohibit the state from investing in
companies that do business in Cuba, Iran and Sudan. And last year the
State Board of Administration was ordered to divest from companies that