Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Co-Founder and CEO Daniel Grant of 2nd Vote Advisers to the studio to discuss their alternative for Fortune 500 corporations who want stay out of the politically correct ideology promoted by left-wing asset management firms.
Leahy: I’m just so excited about our guest today because you’re going to learn something about how to fix America right now. And one of the problems with America is embodied by a guy you’ve never heard of folks.
Listen to this guy’s name. He’s aptly named. His name is Larry Fink. F-I-N-K. And he’s very aptly named. He’s a very powerful guy, really powerful guy. He’s ahead of a group, the biggest money manager in the country, BlackRock. They manage, what, $9 trillion?
Grant: $9 trillion.
Leahy: $9 trillion. And he’s pushing all this leftist claptrap. There’s a claptrap that he’s pushing. And he wants in his mind, there are good sources of virtuous energy. And then there’s evil. And so in his mind, natural gas, oil, coal, that’s evil.
But solar wind, that’s virtuous. And he’s created all sorts of incentives for CEOs who just want to keep their jobs and get paid $10 million, $20 million a year to kind of be figureheads, moving along with the left.
There are all sorts of pressures with his regular messages to them about what he wants to see. This guy is running the policy of many Fortune 500 companies today, and it is, in my view, Dan Grant, a disgrace. What do you think?
Grant: I think, Larry, he’s a representative of the asset management industry as a whole. BlackRock is the largest. But if you look at all of the leading banks, all of the leading asset managers, investment managers, they’re following this philosophy. And if you went to the BlackRock website, you would find what they call their stewardship team. And that sounds great.
Leahy: Well, there’s a biblical concept, stewardship.
Grant: Sure. They adopted the term. And what they will brag about on the website is last quarter, the stewardship team from BlackRock visited 482 companies and their boards, their management teams, and said, hey, listen, guys, we’re owners were big owners of your company. And if you don’t start making acceptable progress towards hitting these ESG metrics that we have laid out,
Leahy: ESG. Environmental social governance. And some of these metrics are ridiculous, right? They basically, take bad leftist policies, they are the metrics.
Grant: So they’re the largest asset manager in the world. They go to these management teams and say, you need to start doing more to implement our definition of good. You need to start forcing that definition on your suppliers, your vendors, and ultimately, your customers. And if you don’t, we will start voting you out. And they are doing it.
Leahy: They’re voting them out. And basically, you got to accept their version of diversity, equity, and inclusion. You got to embrace Critical Race Theory in the workplace which is perhaps one of the most divisive things that are out there.
Now, people listening to us, you work for a large company, they’ve got diversity, equity, and inclusion. And if you go in, you’re forced to sit through the training. They’re telling you stuff that you know is wrong.
But what are you going to do? Are you going to say you’re violating my rights and lose your job? That’s what’s going on.
Grant: My company from a practical perspective, 2nd Vote Advisers, we’re looking at what they’re doing and we’re saying, what is the cost to these companies at the end of the day?
What is the cost of a diversity and inclusion program? I mean, it sounds great. But JP Morgan, for example, a couple of months ago announced a 30 billion dollar capital commitment to diversity and inclusion and closing the racial gap.
Leahy: (i.e. dividing people). That’s what those programs do.
Grant: You read the press release and you look at it and it’s like, okay, their funding, additional mortgages, small business loans, and that all sounds great. And the top 10 banks all have very similar programs, multi-billion dollar programs.
But nowhere in that press release is the actual cost. They’re not talking about the underwriting criteria for these types of loans and for these types of mortgages? A friend of mine was seriously being considered to be the CEO of Fannie Mae back in the Great Recession.
Leahy: Tell people what Fannie Mae is and why it matters.
Grant: It’s one of the government-sponsored entities that will essentially buy up mortgages.
Leahy: It’s the Federal National Mortgage Associations Administration. It’s a quasi-public organization.
Grant: Back in the Great Recession, both of the GSEs were about to fail. And the reason they were about to fail is they allocated 10 percent of their capital to subprime loans. But that 10 percent represented about well over 50 percent of at-risk.
Leahy: Why did they allocate those 10 percent of subprime loans?
Grant: Because they wanted to do something for the social good.
Leahy: Because it would be good.
Grant: It would be good.
Leahy: Virtue signaling.
Grant: So to bring it back to JP Morgan and this 30 billion and the top 10 banks, what they’re doing, what is the actual cost? Nobody knows. Third Bank just announced a $2.8 billion program, and they’re investing in a bank in Detroit, which doesn’t have the best background.
And yet they’re going to allocate a lot of capital to this bank in Detroit. And that bank in Detroit is going to be putting that money to work. Well, how successful is that going to be?
Leahy: I guess we’ll find out.
Leahy: But let me come back and say, okay, so these big money managers like Larry Fink. F-I-N-K. Big Larry Fink, that guy. They’re forcing companies to do all this politically correct stuff that’s costing a lot of money.
Let’s say you have some assets that are currently under management. What can 2nd Vote Advisers do to help out?
Grant: The first thing I would tell you is we are not going to do what BlackRock is doing. We are not going to be visiting companies and their boards and saying, hey, guys, we want you to implement our definition of good.
Leahy: Threatening them basically, you must do our version of lacking good or we’re going to whack you and we’re going to get rid of you.
Grant: That’s right. So what we’re doing is we are actually voting our shares with our beliefs. Companies should not be into social justice engineering. So we are telling CEOs to do that.
And I feel like we’re actually giving CEOs a reason to say no to Larry. Larry, right now, and all the big banks, all the asset managers, as I mentioned, are behind it.
Leahy: He’s kind of a tyrant when it comes to dealing with CEOs who are just quivering when his stewardship team walks in, they start to wonder, what can we do? What can we do? How can we not make them upset? How can I keep my job?
Grant: So what I hope to do is give these CEOs a reason to say no to Larry. I want them to say, Larry, listen, I hear what you want, but I got Dan Grant from 2nd Vote Advisers, and he wants us to do something completely different.
We’ve gone to our board, and we’ve decided to just stay out of the whole thing altogether and focus on our company and profits and let the individual decide where they want to put their philanthropy and charity.
Leahy: This Larry Fink guy at BlackRock manages 9 trillion dollars of money. Where does that money come from, by the way?
Grant: It comes from you and me.
Leahy: Private individuals.
Grant: Private individuals. If you’re in a pension plan if you’re a teacher if you’re a policeman if you’re an individual investor. These guys have hundreds upon hundreds of exchange-traded funds and mutual funds.
Leahy: So they’ve got 9 trillion under management. So 2nd Vote Advisers, what do you have under management?
Grant: Well, we started only a few months ago, and unfortunately, it takes a company like ours, a startup, to do what we’re doing. So I mentioned we started in 2000.
Leahy: You started with zero.
Grant: We started with zero. We now have two publicly traded exchange-traded funds.
Leahy: Tell us what an exchange-traded fund is.
Grant: It’s very much like a mutual fund. So you can go on, you can put the ticker symbol in. And one of our tickers is EGIS and it’s a Second Amendment fund.
Leahy: Which ticker do I go to?
Grant: If you are with a Morgan Stanley or any broker and you want to buy a stock, you put the ticker symbol in and you hit buy. So it is a liquid stock.
Leahy: Can I do it online myself?
Leahy: Where would you go?
Grant: I have an E-Trade account.
Leahy: Put in EGIS I could do it right now if I wanted to buy. And what’s the fund do? Investing in gun companies?
Grant: Well, no. So what we’ve done is we have rated the S&P 1500. And we have different issues that Conservatives care about. One of the issues that Conservatives care about is the Second Amendment.
Listen to the third hour here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles in the studio to weigh in on the recent rogue staff situation at the Department of Human Resources that has quietly implemented equity and inclusion councils across the state agencies.
Leahy: In studio or very good friend, Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles. Andy, our top story at The Tennessee Star today follows up on this rogue staff at the Department of Human Resources that’s decided on its own without telling the Tennessee General Assembly or apparently the governor, that they’re going to set up equity and inclusion councils all across the state of Tennessee and every state agency.
And we’ll get to that in a bit. Apparently, they’ve implemented it. Here’s what State Representative John Reagan, who is the chairman of the Government Operations Committee in the House said. This is, according to our lead store at The Tennessee Star. He’s formerly asked the Tennessee Department of Human Resources, the Commissioner there, Juan Williams, to explain the Diversity and Equity Council program he wants state agencies to enforce.
In the letter, Reagan requested that Williams justify his actions in a timely manner and explain how much it will cost taxpayers. Reagan told The Tennessee Star that Williams and members of his staff acknowledge receiving the letter, but they’ve yet to formally respond. I’ll give you this quote and see what your thoughts are.
This is from State Representative John Reagan, the chairman of the Government Operations Committee in the House of Representatives. “My concerns about the Diversity and Equity Council will fall into two categories. First, I want to know whether this is an internal policy that is only going to affect people inside their Department or if it is going to affect people outside their Department.
My concern there is because I chair the Government Operations Committee. The second thing of concern to me is I did not see anything related to cost. What is this going to cost in terms of expenditures of doing training or having meetings or whatever they’re going to do? And then does it take away also from their doing of their current jobs?” What’s your reaction to that?
Ogles: Well I think you start at the beginning of a rogue employee. I don’t buy into that. I just don’t. This is now the third Commissioner who allegedly has gone off-script. And at some point, you’ve got to sit down with your commissioners and give them a clear direction and tell them this is how I expect you to govern. And so this is unacceptable. And Commissioner Juan Williams should resign. This does not reflect Tennessee values. And at what point are we going to have faith that our government is actually representing Tennesseeans and not representing some agenda from the left?
Leahy: It sounds like an agenda from the left. And the commissioner is making it appear that Governor Lee endorses this agenda from the left. They had a meeting yesterday, apparently. Now, to me, since this entire program, and I’ve got some more information. It has already been implemented and I’ll give you some of those details on it. I don’t see how one, Williams can stay as Commissioner having misled the Tennessee General Assembly on this program.
Ogles: Of course not. The Commissioner is working at will for the governor. You can be fired at any time. We’re a right-to-work state. But there’s the cause here. End of story. How much it does or doesn’t cost to the Tennessee taxpayer is really a moot point. The bigger issue is this isn’t California. This isn’t Washington and this isn’t Oregon and this isn’t New York.
Anecdotally I had a board meeting yesterday and it does a lot of nonprofit good stuff. But it’s a quasi-state board. It’s for a regional thing. And the federal government had pushed down some language that they ‘recommended’ that we insert into our bylaws. And one of those words is that as far as the discrimination clause is that we won’t discriminate against transgender individuals.
Well, hold on a minute. That hasn’t fully been adjudicated in our courts. And by inserting that into the bylaws, now if you have a situation where a man wants to use the bathroom with a little girl, you can’t tell them no.
Leahy: That is about as crazy as you could possibly get.
Ogles: But I refuse and I object to it. And we did not amend our bylaws to reflect that. And at some point, if we have to, we go to court over it. But this has got to stop. These agendas being pushed down by the federal government and the media. Tennessee needs to be a firewall state. It’s time. We’re at war. We’re in a cultural war. We’re in a spiritual war. We’re in a political war. And buckle up, Buttercup, because it’s time. And we’ve got to start taking stands in Tennessee. Tough stands. And this is emblematic of what’s happening across the country.
Leahy: So yesterday, the head of the Tennessee House Government Operations Committee asked the Commissioner of the Department of Human Resources if this diversity and equity program was just limited to the Department of Human Resource. Andy, a source has provided us with a document. This document comes from…
Ogles: Uh oh. (Laughs)
Leahy: Uh oh. (Laughs)
Ogles: I don’t think they expected it to get out. And then suddenly they got caught red-handed with their hand in the cookie jar. And so here we go.
Leahy: Here’s the cookie jar we’re opening up. So here’s the thing. The Department of Human Resources provides human resource guidelines to every department of the state. Public safety, transportation, and there is another department called the Department of Human Services. That’s separate from the Department of Human Resources. This is a document from the Department of Human Services. I’ll just read this to you.
In the wake of social justice protests and conversations last year, the Tennessee Department of Human Resources, that’s the overarching one, not the Department of Human Services that we got this one from, started a new initiative across state government to foster conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion, to strengthen the employee experience.
All state agencies, including the Tennessee Department of Human Services, have been encouraged to take steps to further this effort. At the Department of Human Services, we are committed to providing an environment in which employees thrive because it’s the right thing to do. Wait for it…in November of 2020, the Department of Human Services, a separate Department from the Department of Human Resources, launched a series of diversity, equity, and inclusion listening services.
I don’t know where the budget was approved for that. I don’t think there was any budget for that. In which nearly 300 employees attended to share their feedback and thoughts. In addition to the subset of the population who attended, 186 employees also participated in an optional session survey after each listening session. Here’s what this resulted in.
There’s a need for additional diversity, equity, and inclusion training, said the employees at the Department of Human Services, following the lead of the recommendation not approved by anybody or any budget, but instigated by the Department of Human Resources. They want to focus on inclusive language in the workplace.
They need more opportunities for listening sessions, education on listening skills, more diverse recruitment teams, more advocacy to diversify teams, and more community outreach efforts. Now, this program has been implemented, according to this document across the state of Tennessee, without the knowledge, apparently, of anyone in the Tennessee General Assembly.
Ogles: Well, again, I can see how the General Assembly would be unaware of some of the things that are happening in government buildings because they’re part-time legislators. Obviously, there should have been some disclosure during the budget sessions, but I go back. You said 300 and 186 participated. So almost 500 employees participated.
Leahy: 300 participated and were in the listening session. This is just in the Department of Human Service. One of a dozen or so departments. And then 186 and filled out surveys after that participation.
Ogles: We’ve got hundreds of employees that participated in this and you’re telling me that somehow someway this didn’t get back to the governor.
Leahy: I’m not telling you that. I’m just saying it happened. It didn’t get back to the Tennessee General Assembly.
Ogles: And so, again, my question is, where are the governor’s people engaging with his respective departments? I mean, you have over 300 employees that are participating in that and someone didn’t call in? This is ridiculous.
Leahy: That was back in November by the way.
Ogles: How about you have fewer meetings with Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg and focus on the business of Tennessee. I’m really troubled by this. This is, again, emblematic of what’s been going on with this ‘third-row commissioner’ in about six months with this administration.
Leahy: So the other rogue commissioner, Penny Schwinn who did this debacle of the well-being checks, that was her idea. They stepped back and stopped that. Who was the other one?
Ogles: So the other one and not a lot about this has been discussed in the media, but you have the former Commissioner of Veterans Affairs who had to resign from office due to a scandal within that department.
Leahy: A scandal?
Ogles: That’s right.
Listen to the second hour here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.