A newly created non-profit has dedicated itself to keeping politics—including the conservative push against ESG investing—out of the pension system.

The Alliance for Prosperity and a Secure Retirement, a nonprofit organization based in Wilmington, Del., says it was formed to push back against politicians on the local, state and federal levels that are attempting to pass laws that prohibit, or require, pension funds to invest in certain industries or to use specific criteria for investments.

One of its founding members is investment giant BlackRock, which has been a prime target of conservative government officials that have been waging a way against ESG investing. The alliance membership also includes a number of labor unions, particularly those representing fire fighters and police.

The alliance had their official launch three weeks ago.

“The legislative proposals are mostly coming from the right side of the political spectrum now, but we are against any laws that direct pension funds on how to invest their money, whether it is on the right or the left,” Tim Hill, president of the Alliance, said in an interview.

Currently, the Alliance is fighting an Oklahoma law that prohibits public pensions from investing in funds that use ESG criteria for investments. It also is working against a proposal in the Arizona Senate that would prohibit public entities from contracting with any companies that have ties to firearms. Likewise, a proposal being considered in New Jersey would require pension funds to divest themselves from oil holdings and the Alliance opposes it.

None of these proposals should be passed, or supported if they already have been signed into law, Hill said.

“A couple of years ago it became abundantly clear that there was a serious threat to impose political agendas on investment decisions for public pension funds,” Hill said. “Right now, it is mostly coming from politicians that have a conservative agenda, but we oppose amateurs making any efforts to dictate investment policy—and politicians are amateurs in investing.”

Decisions should be made in the best interest of the investors, unhindered by political considerations, he said.

The Alliance is working with Blackrock, one of the largest asset managers in the financial industry, to keep investment decisions in the hands of financial professionals and is looking for other allies in the fight, Hill said.

Hill is a former member of the Phoenix, Ariz., fire department and is director of the International Association of Fire Fighters Pension Resources Department. The other board members for the Alliance are Ray O’Brocki, a retired assistant fire chief of the Baltimore City Fire Department and former trustee of the Baltimore City Fire and Police Retirement System; and Glen Middleton, former executive director of AFSCME MD Council 67, and a retired international vice president of AFSCME.

Investment decisions that are made to push a political agenda are not being made with long-term investment returns in mind, Hill said. “This has gone from a fringe effort to a significant threat to the fiduciary duties of the investment managers," he said. The decisions that are made for political reasons, rather than for financial reasons, can cost pensioners millions in lost returns, he added.

The Alliance works to educate policymakers, the media and stakeholders on policies that promote retirement and savings solutions that are made for sound financial reasons, the Alliance’s website said.

“Actions taken by many states have limited the freedom of the investor to determine their best strategies, while increasing costs and limiting returns. Additionally, Congress is considering policies that would have the same harmful effects. Politics has no place in the investment decisions of Americans,” the Alliance said.