LOS ANGELES, CA — Assembly members Warren Furutani, Bob Blumenfield, and Mike Feuer applaud today’s long-overdue announcement by the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) that it will divest most of its investments in businesses with interests in Iran’s energy sector. With the announcement, CalPERS moves towards compliance with California law enacted in 2007, AB 221, that requires CalPERS and the California State Teachers Retirement System to divest from companies with business interests in Iran. The announcement comes as the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security (PERSS) Committee set a May 18th oversight hearing to ask CalPERS board members why the nation’s largest public pension fund has failed to comply with the law. “I support the action taken by the CalPERS board today.
However, it is unfortunate that it has taken them this long to comply with a law that became effective on January 1, 2008. I still plan on moving forward with our previously scheduled hearing because there continues to be a need to provide legislative oversight to ensure that CalPERS divests of these holdings in a timely manner,” Furutani (D-South Los Angeles County) said.
“This announcement is encouraging but long overdue,” said Blumenfield (D-San Fernando Valley). “For years, state law has required CalPERS to completely divest from Iran and today’s news confirms it is not meeting this standard. CalPERS must abide by the law. I will keep fighting to ensure this result and I won’t be satisfied until this happens.”
“I am pleased that CalPERS has for the first time said publicly that it will comply with California’s divestment law. By curtailing these investments, California can help dry up the financial resources Iran needs to fund its nuclear ambitions. I’ll be watching closely to ensure that CalPERS effectuates meaningful divestment in a reasonable amount of time,” said Feuer (D-Los Angeles), author of the legislation. Assembly members Feuer and Blumenfield have been waging a multi-prong campaign to ensure that California’s financial resources are not invested in companies doing business in Iran’s energy sector and not used to bolster Iran’s nuclear weapons development or extremist activities.
They currently are authoring AB 1151, which would enhance California’s current divestiture law to require that CalPERS clearly and publicly explain the reasons to not divest. In 2010, Feuer and Blumenfield authored AB 1650, which prohibits companies with significant interests in Iran’s energy sector from having contracts with the State of California or its local governments. California Congressman Howard Berman last year passed a federal law strengthening U.S. sanctions on Iran and included an express safe harbor for state pension funds that divest from companies doing business in Iran’s energy and nuclear sector. The new federal law prohibits lawsuits against state pension fund managers who divest from companies doing business in Iran.