PRESS RELEASE ABOUT PERMENENT FUND DARFUR INVESTMENTS
PRESS RELEASE: The following letter was sent to Mr. Mike Burns, Executive Director, Alaska Permanent Corporation on April 3, 2008. The letter is a good faith attempt to resolve issues addressed by House Bill (HB) 287 which seeks divestment of Permanent Fund money in six foreign companies doing business in the Darfur region of Sudan. Basically, Mr. Burns has testified before the House State Affairs Committee that the Permanent Fund Corporation opposes, and has a policy against, so-called “social investing, and that enacting HB287 into law would violate long standing policy.
This letter is an invitation to “reason together,” with specific recommendations to the State Affairs Committee for appropriate legislation that addresses the Darfur genocide investment issue – or how the issue might be resolved, if practical, within the administration without legislation.
I plan to work diligently throughout the Interim on crafting legislation that will address concerns of all parties involved. At this point, we are almost at the end of the 25th Legislature. This letter, in a manner of speaking, “puts the ball in the court of Mr. Burns” for action.
Dear Mr. Burns:
Please suggest to the House State Affairs how we might “come reason together” to take the high moral ground, avoid unconscionable investments, and obtain maximum returns from the thousands of investment opportunities that don’t assist genocide currently occurring in the Darfur region of Sudan. We hope you agree this is possible. Let us know how we may help.
We understand that the goal of the Permanent Fund Corporation is to invest for the maximum return, while maintaining an appropriate level of safety for the people’s money. You have expressed that your corporation’s policy is opposed to so-called “social investing.” We appreciate there are many social issues, as well as a paucity of agreement on many of those issues. But, surely at some point – and we would submit that point is assisting genocide – could we not agree that investment of the people’s money would be both abhorrent and a “bad investment”?
Since 2003, the Sudanese Government has killed, or allowed the killing of well over 200,000 of its own people, and uprooted upwards to 2 million more - and the genocide continues to escalate. The killing has been recognized as genocide both by the President of the United States, and the United States Congress, as well as the United Nations. Hopefully, decision makers in Alaska also recognize genocide as a bipartisan issue.
Due to many factors, including time constraints imposed by the new ninety day session, we were unable to move HB287 out of State Affairs and into law this session. Had this bill become law, the Permanent Fund and the State Pension Fund would have been required to divest funds from companies investing in Sudan that are identified as complicit in the Darfur genocide. For your convenience, a list is attached of the six foreign companies in which the Permanent Fund Corporation is invested.
Please communicate at your earliest convenience guidelines for legislation to our committee that will that will maintain everyone’s goal of profitable and safe investments without unconscionable investments that help fund genocide. Or, if possible, please let us know if the same goal can be obtained by action within the administration.
REP. BOB LYNN
Chair, House State Affairs Committe
Cc: Governor Sarah Palin
Members of the House State Affairs Committee