February 18, 2009
Legislators Request Permanent Fund Board To Stop Investing In Companies Implicated in Darfur Genocide
From a Representative Les Gara press release:
Today 4 Democrats renewed a call on the Permanent Fund Corporation to cooperate in efforts to stop investing state funds in companies implicated in the 5 year long Darfur genocide. The Corporation is meeting today and tomorrow, and will reconsider its position opposing these efforts.
"Last year we tried hard, but failed, to get the Permanent Fund Corporation to offer proactive input, and help in crafting bill language they found workable. There's a welcome openness at the Corporation this year to reconsider their position, and we are encouraged," said Rep. Les Gara, who is co-sponsoring legislation to require divestment with Democrats Reps. Pete Petersen, Berta Gardner, Beth Kerttula and Republican Bob Lynn. Governor Palin has filed similar legislation.
Since 2003 the Sudanese government and paramilitary groups have killed over 300,000 of their own citizens, and jeopardized the lives of 2 million others through displacement. Roughly 30 other states have already joined the Darfur Divestment movement.
"Divestment from Darfur is long past due. Alaskans have a moral obligation to refuse any profit from genocide," said Rep. Berta Gardner (D-Anch).
The political climate has changed in Alaska on this issue since last year, when a similar effort failed.
In 2007, Reps. Bob Lynn and Les Gara filed bi-partisan legislation to stop the State from investing in foreign companies that are complicit in the 5-year old Darfur genocide. It is expected that the legislation will have broader support this year, after it became an issue in the national presidential election.
"The people of Alaska don't need to profit from genocide. There is no reason to wait on this issue- we shouldn't be the last state in the union to divest," said newly elected Rep. Pete Petersen (D-Anch).v The Governor's Commissioners, who occupy two Board seats, have now joined the Darfur divestment effort. While the Administration opposed divestment efforts at the outset last year, Revenue Commissioner Pat Galvin and Governor are very supportive of making this change. "Pat and I spent a lot of time on this last year, and the Governor and I have talked. Pat's been great to work with, and the Administration's support helps a lot," said Gara.
"As time has passed, the power of this idea has grown. More policymakers are educated on this moral issue. Most people should agree that it's wrong to make money off of Genocide," said Gara.
Legislators have been invited to present their positions to the Board tomorrow at noon. A copy of their letter to the Permanent Fund Board is attached.
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