Thursday, May 30, 2024

Dustin Granger enters Louisiana treasurer race as Democratic candidate

by BIZ Magazine

By Julie O’Donoghue, Louisiana Illuminator

Personal financial adviser Dustin Granger of Lake Charles became the first Democrat to enter the Louisiana treasurer’s race Tuesday, emphasizing state government should shift away from favoring oil and gas investments and diversify its financial portfolio.

“We have been making bad investment decisions for far too long,” Granger said in an interview. “There are so many red flags and no one is doing anything about it.” 

Granger, 42, said Louisiana should not select investment firms and banks to handle the state’s business based on the financial institutions’ approach to climate change, gun manufacturers or other social issues. The state needs to consider investing the government’s money in alternative energy, especially if the return-on-investment is better for its residents, he said.

The Democrat’s platform is at odds with the perspective of the Republicans who hold most statewide offices in government. 

Louisiana’s oil and gas industry retains a lot of political power, even though the state’s job market has shifted away from energy and become far more dependent on tourism in recent years.

If elected, Granger said he would immediately lift any prohibitions the current treasurer, Republican John Schroder, has put in place on working with firms that have climate-conscious investment strategies.

Last year, Schroder pulled hundreds of millions of dollars of the state’s investments from BlackRock Inc. over the company’s climate change considerations, which Schroder considered an affront to the oil and gas sector. He also chose to replace one of Louisiana’s outside financial advisers after the adviser suggested that avoiding companies based on their social or environmental policies would end up costing Louisiana more money.

In general, Schroder has been skeptical of financial institutions with environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies, which loosely means they consider environmental and social impacts when investing. Granger doesn’t share that skepticism. He believes the state should work with companies that are mindful of the impact of climate change. 

“The world is moving away from greenhouse gas,” Granger said. “We are missing out on the new energy revolution by being protective of fossil fuels.”

Granger also objected to the state bond commission’s decision to block a few banks from handling the state’s debt refinancing over firearms policies. In 2021, the bond commission pulled hundreds of millions of dollars of business from JPMorgan Chase & Co because the bank refused to do business with gun manufacturers that make military-style weapons.

If elected treasurer, Granger would be chairman of the bond commission and said he would vote against putting such restrictions on banks, though Granger wouldn’t be able to stop them altogether. The rest of the bond commission will likely be dominated by conservative Republican elected officials and could overrule him.

The Democrat said his two decades of experience helping individuals and families manage their personal finances had prepared him to work as state treasurer. 

He lost an election for the Louisiana Senate to Sen. Jeremy Stine, R-Lake Charles, in 2021. In the treasurer’s race, he will face Republican state Rep. Scott McKnight, of Baton Rouge. Former Congressman John Fleming, R-Minden, is also considering getting into the race.

Schroder is not running for reelection as treasurer. He has entered the governor’s race.

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