Divestment: Will California Take On the Mullahs?
MARCH 28 - Today California will become the first state to decide whether or not it will continue to do business with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The State Assembly will hear proposed legislation (AB-221) by Republican Joel Anderson of El Cajon, and Democrat Jose Solorio of Anaheim that will require state pension funds to divest from companies that do business with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Iranian-American community and many exiled Iranians are supporting this legislation. Several prominent Iranian-American activists have announced they will testify in support of AB-221, and Iranian groups as far away as Sweden and Turkey are backing the measure. Support for the bill has also come from the Prince of Iran, Reza Pahlavi but it is opposed by William Reinsch, Undersecretary of Commerce during the Clinton administration, and IRI promoters and apologists like the NIAC. (National Iranian American Council).
The California initiative is the nation's first, and has inspired similar action in Massachusetts, Maryland, Georgia, Ohio and Missouri.
CBS "60 minutes" stated on January 4, "Just about everyone with a 401(k) pension plan or mutual fund has money invested in companies that are doing business in so-called rogue states". California's colossal state pension funds, CalPERS and CalSTRS, have invested about $24 billion in hundreds of companies doing business with the Islamic Republic of Iran, according to figures released by private consulting group Conflict Securities.
On a federal level, Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R - FL), and Tom Lantos (D - CA) introduced legislation a few weeks ago that would require all U.S. government pension funds to divest stocks of companies that have invested more than $20 million in the Islamic Republic's oil and gas sector.
UPDATE: The bill easily passed its first hurdle in the California legislature.