Early last week, the Florida Democratic Party called on Governor Ron DeSantis to divest nearly $300 million in state funds invested in Russian assets. On Friday, following reports that Russia’s bombing of a Ukrainian theater killed more than 300 civilians, 11 Democratic members of Florida’s Congressional delegation echoed the Florida Democratic Party’s call for divestment in a joint letter to DeSantis.
How has Governor DeSantis responded? – “Right now he’s staying awfully quiet.”
In the weeks since Russia invaded the Ukraine, Republican politicians across the country — including many governors — have taken strong positions in support of the Ukraine and even taken steps to review Russian contracts, drop investments in Russian companies and remove Russian vodka from store shelves.
But this is apparently a topic that Gov. Ron DeSantis and the two other Republicans who oversee the state’s mammoth nearly $200 billion pension plan really don’t want to talk about. That’s even though Florida has roughly $300 million (although the value is probably considerably less now) in Russian-related investments.
Democrats, however, have repeatedly questioned the recalcitrance of the governor on Russian divestment in recent weeks and the 11 Democratic members of Florida’s delegation signed a letter on Friday calling on DeSantis to act. (Apparently no GOP members would sign it.) “Urgently isolating Vladimir Putin and his oligarchs saves Ukrainian lives, and I’m repulsed that DeSantis and his fellow Republicans refuse to divest Florida’s Russian-tied assets,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a statement. “I’m also stunned that, given the chance, Florida’s Republican members of Congress refused to sign this straightforward letter urging their counterparts in Tallahassee to wipe this blood-stained money off Florida’s investment books.”
Maybe there’s some political calculation at work here — and a fear that taking a stance on Russia could backfire down the line. (There’s no reason to entertain various conspiracy theories devoid of meaning or proof but alive and well in the fever swamps of social media.) Instead let’s point out DeSantis has routinely contended that he won’t shy away from all sorts of fights, yet this topic is apparently not worthy of his time and energy. It’s been noted before — so let’s note it again — DeSantis thinks very much about what he says and doesn’t say. And right now he’s staying awfully quiet.
Image Credits: Brynn Anderson/Associated Press