Florida’s pension fund is losing $200 million in Russian investments, a state official says. said

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – In the months following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, oil prices rose, inflation rose and the state of Florida reportedly lost millions due to investments in Russia. Even before the losses, Democrats in Florida had urged the state to divest itself of the money it invests in Russian companies.

Now, Democrat Andrew Learned (D-Brandon) says the state pension fund has lost $200 million of its investments in Russia, as a result of sanctions imposed on the country due to the war. The state is said to have invested $300 million in Russian-based companies.

“Florida’s Retirement System LOST over $200 million in our Russian investments after refusing to release our holdings when I called over two months ago,” I learned tweeted. “It turns out supporting Putin and his war crimes in Ukraine wasn’t just bad for freedom, it was also a bad investment.”

Shortly after the February 24 invasion of Ukraine, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and other state lawmakers called on Governor Ron DeSantis to officially end the involvement of the state in Russian enterprises through the state pension fund.

In March, Learned proposed an amendment to the state’s appropriations bill, which is still being considered by DeSantis, to cede the funds. This amendment failed, and Learned criticized fellow Republicans for their inaction.

“Reminder: Still Crickets from the Florida GOP Regarding the Divestiture of Our Russian Investments,” I learned tweeted at the time.

However, the issue of divestment is complicated. As noted earlier, Florida’s investments in Russian companies are managed by the state’s Board of Directors. The Florida SBA functions as an investment trustee, and before any decision to invest or divest, the board must review the funds. By law, the SBA is controlled by the governor, along with chief financial officer and state attorney general Jimmy Patronis and Ashley Moody, respectively.

When WFLA.com contacted in March to ask the governor’s office about the divestment push, they said the review process was underway.

“The SBA reviewed investments in entities domiciled in Russia,” according to the governor’s office. “Any decision will be announced after the SBA completes its review.”

In the tweet thread from Learned on May 3, the Brandon lawmaker said that not only had Florida’s pension fund lost $200 million from its investments in Russia, but that the state had actually “increased its holdings in Russia from June to December during the pre-war period”. By comparison, Learned said Florida invested just $80,000 in Ukraine.

Learned shared a document from the Florida SBA showing the dollar amounts of what is invested by Florida Retirement Plan funds, broken down by country. Separately, via a GoogleDoc made public by Congressman Brandon, Russia-specific values ​​were specified.

The document reports that the state pension fund lost $200,722,906.45 in assets invested in Russian companies. It should also be noted that state investments in Ukraine also lost $20,485.77.

According to state officials, documents posted to Twitter by Rep. Learned are the updated pension records, and the review process for a possible divestment is still ongoing.

Dolores W. Simon