Updated Oct 11, 2022, 8:00am EDT
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Paul Ryan: ‘Woke’ companies will be targets if the GOP wins back a majority

Bradley is a Business & Finance reporter for Semafor, joining us from Business Insider. Sign up for Semafor Business to get his scoops and coverage of the industry.

This story was originally published on Oct. 11, 2022.


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The Scoop

Former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan told an audience of some of the most influential asset managers in the world that ESG funds will be a target of the GOP should Republicans retake a majority at the midterms.

Speaking at a closed conference in New York last week, Ryan said the American Conservative Union is even asking those vying for leadership slots to sign a waiver saying they won’t meet with “woke” corporations like Walmart — a staple in the conservative regions across the country that tries to stay out of culture war battles.

According to a recording of his talk, Ryan said he is advising CEOs not to transform their businesses too much to align with ESG principles because “the next shoe to drop is to go after woke corporations.”

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Bradley’s view

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis winning a staring contest with Disney has changed the relationship between big business and the Republican party, and Ryan knows it.

Before, the GOP took its cues from the business leaders of the country, who were often their largest donors as well. Now, those cues are coming from an increasingly extreme base who are more interested in culture war points than tax breaks.

The bottomline is no longer the most important measure, and some Republican voters are already paying for it. Texas taxpayers, for instance, will pay hundreds of millions more to borrow money thanks to their state’s policy banning lenders over their ESG policies.