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CFO Atwater Stands Behind States’ Rights to Divest from Terror-Related Organizations

9/3/2015

Contact: Ashley Carr
(850) 413 – 2842
 
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater today released the following statement in support of Florida’s right to divest state funds from organizations that are engaged in prohibited business activities with state sponsors of terror. CFO Atwater also sent a letter today to Senate President Andy Gardiner and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli explaining that the pending federal Iran deal could undermine Florida’s existing sanctions against such entities.  CFO Atwater urged the legislative leadership to act quickly to defend Florida’s established law on this critical issue.
 
CFO Atwater said, “The sinister machinery of the Iranian regime is not news to Floridians.  In fact, Florida was a leader—the first in the nation—to pass a law requiring divestment of public funds from companies that do business with Iran. This bipartisan effort passed both houses of Florida’s legislature unanimously.  Since the law’s passage, our State Board of Administration has divested more than $1.1 billion from companies involved with Iran, and 30 states now have similar measures that keep public money from funding terrorism.
 
“A state can invest funds—or not invest funds—where it chooses.  It is a matter of states’ rights.  Absent a treaty, which the pending federal Iran deal is not, the federal government cannot force states to do business, either directly or indirectly, with regimes that fund terrorism and systematically abuse human rights.  Secretary of State John Kerry admitted as much in his recent remarks to Congress.  Further, the agreement itself exposes this administration’s plans to use ‘all available authorities’ to force states to follow them down this reckless path.
 
“What’s more, in the very text of its agreement with Iran, this administration, with disturbing clarity, memorialized its commitment to induce states into abandoning their anti-terrorism policies.
 
“As it stands, Florida laws allow the President or Congress to void our divestment policy.  At the time of enactment, this seemed prudent.  But at that time, we could not have dreamed that our country’s leadership would enter into an agreement at odds with the sentiments of most Americans and engage with a state that openly sponsors terror, holds American hostages, threatens the stability of an entire region, seeks to eradicate Israel from the face of the earth, and whose leaders presently call for ‘Death to America.’  But that is the reality we live in today.
 
“In 2007, I co-sponsored Florida’s Iran divestment bill (SB 2142), and I continue to believe we must use any and all means available to defend against whatever steps may be taken to undermine our state’s policy decisions.  One person should not have the power to undo the policies of a state of 20 million people.  For that reason, it is imperative that Florida lead the charge—just as we did in establishing our sanctions—to shield states from the federal government’s attacks on our sound and bipartisan policy against funding terror.”
 
A copy of the CFO’s letter to President Gardiner and Speaker Crisafulli is attached.
 
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Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).