87th LegislatureElections 2022EnergyIssuesPatrick Campaign Blasts ‘Smear Piece’ on Investments in Firm He Criticized for ‘Boycotting’ Oil and Gas

The Texas Legislature enacted a law last year that prevents state agencies from investing in companies that “boycott” the fossil fuel industry.
September 13, 2022
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In a statement last week, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s campaign disputed claims by Texas Monthly after the magazine published a piece focusing on Patrick’s previous holdings in BlackRock, which is on a list of financial companies in which state agencies are now banned from investing pension funds.

Senate Bill (SB) 13 prohibits the State of Texas from investing in entities that refuse to do business with an energy company that “engages in the exploration, production, utilization, transportation, sale, or manufacturing of fossil fuel-based energy and does not commit or pledge to meet environmental standards beyond applicable federal and state law.”

The law requires the comptroller of public accounts to keep a list of companies in which state agencies are prevented from investing. While there are a few exceptions, such as a serious financial loss to the state, they must be justified on a case-by-case basis with “clear and convincing evidence.” 

The law does not prevent a private individual or even an elected official from investing in such companies, but banned investments through the state government’s portfolios, such as those belonging to the Teacher Retirement System of Texas and the Texas Municipal Retirement System.

The Texas Senate passed the final version of SB 13 by a vote of 28 to 3, and it likewise received bipartisan support in the Texas House with a final vote of 121 to 26.

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BlackRock is the largest portfolio manager worldwide and recently disputed that it is divesting from oil and gas companies.

‘Hatchet Job’

The Dan Patrick campaign’s chief strategist, Allen Blakemore, published a statement lashing out at Texas Monthly for being “so woke that they don’t see the value” in the goals of SB 13.

“When Texas Monthly set out to write a smear piece on Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, they obviously had little interest in getting the facts right — their goal in writing the piece was a hatchet job,” Blakemore said.

The campaign also accused Texas Monthly of providing a “grossly inflated” estimate for how much the shares were worth. The lieutenant governor sold his BlackRock investments for just over $35,000, per the statement.

Blakemore explained that Patrick sold the shares on January 21, 2022, after he “discovered” them as his team prepared its February 2022 campaign finance documents. SB 13 took effect on September 1, 2021, after Gov. Greg Abbott signed it into law in June of last year.

Also in January, Patrick took aim at BlackRock, requesting Comptroller Glenn Hegar place the firm on the state’s list of companies excluded from investments.

“As you prepare the official list of companies that boycott energy companies, I ask that you include BlackRock, and any company like them, that choose to hurt Texas oil and gas energy companies by boycotting them in violation of Senate Bill 13,” Patrick wrote at the time.

The campaign’s statement on Friday also asserted that purchasing stock in BlackRock was not Patrick’s call.

“Lt. Gov. Patrick did not make a decision to buy Blackrock. He depends on his investment advisors who made the Blackrock investments before the SB13 was passed,” the statement read.

The campaign further complained that one of the authors of the Texas Monthly article had “sent a long list of questions on Friday afternoon with a short deadline and no contact number.” Blakemore claimed their efforts to reach the author were unsuccessful.

“When you set out to write a hit piece, journalistic standards be damned. A freshman journalism student would expect to get an F on the assignment,” Blakemore concluded.

Patrick’s team later corrected the statement to reflect that the publication had contacted the campaign on Wednesday, August 31.

Texas Monthly updated its piece with an editor’s note that read in part, “We have updated the story to reflect new information, including details about some of Patrick’s holdings in BlackRock shares and mutual funds and when he sold them. There were no factual errors in the original story that required correction.”

The publication also stated that it gave Patrick’s campaign additional time to respond after hearing from a spokesperson on Friday, September 2, but repeated communications were not returned.

Patrick’s main opponent in the general election is Democrat Mike Collier, who recently received the endorsements of GOP Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley and Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo).

Sen. Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville) also crossed party lines and endorsed Patrick.

Libertarian Shanna Steele is also a candidate for lieutenant governor.

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."