The Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) is playing an increasingly prominent role among the fleet of dark money organizations attacking climate policy in the financial industry, an investigation by Documented has found.

Materials obtained by Documented reveal that FGA provided model legislative text, helped draft regulations, and provided expert testimony supporting attacks on ESG in multiple states, with many of the FGA-supported measures codified into law. In states where anti-ESG bills failed in the legislature, FGA pushed secretaries of state to nonetheless adopt anti-ESG rules. ESG disclosures are made by public companies and include reporting on a company's performance as it relates to environmental, social, and governance factors.

FGA's influence is perhaps most notable in Missouri, as CNN reported in March 2024, drawing from materials obtained by Documented. Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft "was steered toward adopting his 'anti-woke' investment regulation by a little-known, right-wing think tank with deep ties to conservative billionaires," CNN noted. Emails obtained by Documented show FGA "suggested regulatory language to Ashcroft and even wrote an op-ed article that Ashcroft published in a national conservative magazine under his own name," according to CNN.

Documented's investigation into the group offers "a rare glimpse into how billionaire megadonors use think tanks like FGA to advance their causes out of public view," CNN wrote.

FGA, founded in 2011, is a Florida group associated with the alliance of state-based think tanks called the State Policy Network. Alongside its 501(c)(4) lobbying and political spending arm, the Opportunity Solutions Project, FGA pushes right-wing policy at the state and federal level. FGA specializes in writing legislation and regulations, which is then passed to lawmakers and elected officials. To help propel their draft legislation into law, FGA and its (c)(4) arm registered at least sixty-five lobbyists in twenty-five states who lobby and testify on behalf of FGA’s policies, according to Documented's analysis of 2023 records.

FGA has become a major player in attacking the freedom to vote, access to healthcare and workers’ rights, but is increasingly driving the backlash to ESG investing.

FGA’s role in the anti-ESG campaign

In the last two years, a web of right-wing dark money groups have waged a coordinated and well-funded campaign attacking financial institutions that seek to address climate change. These groups have focused specifically on environment, social, and governance disclosures, better known as ESG. These disclosures are made by public companies and include factors like carbon emission intensity, the gender and racial makeup of organizations, and executive compensation. However, no aspect of ESG has seen more intense fire than climate-risk disclosure. The attacks on ESG have included congressional subpoenas and hearings, state level legislation and rule makings, and investigations by attorneys general.

FGA's role in the campaign has largely consisted of helping lawmakers draft anti-ESG legislation in multiple states, and then providing expert testimony in support of those bills.

In the 2022-2023 legislative session alone, a total of 158 anti-ESG bills and nine resolutions were introduced in 37 states, according to an analysis by Pleiades Strategy, a research and advisory firm. Legislators in 10 states, including Arkansas, Arizona, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming, introduced a total of 16 bills based on FGA’s model legislation during the 2022-2023 legislative session, the Pleiades analysis found. Three laws and one resolution based on FGA’s model legislation passed in Arkansas (HB 1307), Idaho (H 190), Louisiana (HCR 70) and Utah (HB 449).

Documented has identified that representatives of FGA’s 501(c)(4) lobbying arm, the Opportunity Solutions Project, testified in support of 12 anti-ESG bills, in Indiana, Arizona (additional testimony here), Kansas, Montana (additional testimony here), Missouri (additional testimony here, here and here) and Texas (additional testimony here and here). Additionally, lobbyists for FGA's Opportunity Solutions Project disclosed lobbying on anti-ESG bills in Florida and Iowa.

An example of FGA’s coordinated lobbying strategy can be seen in Arizona. During FGA’s Fall 2022 Western Alliance Meeting, held in Utah, FGA Senior Fellow Madeline Malisa led a session for lawmakers on how to take on ESG. Arizona state Senator Frank Carroll attended the summit. Following the meeting, FGA’s Allen Cambon sent Senator Carroll a followup email:

“I remember you expressed some interest in the ESG issue, so I've attached model legislation that would prohibit state contracts with financial institutions that practice ESG to give you a general sense of what the policy would look like. If you like, we can draft a bill specific to Arizona.”

In October 2022, FGA’s Cambon met with Senator Carroll in Phoenix, and wrote in a followup email, “We are working on a new ESG draft specific to Arizona and will get that to you asap.”

In February 2023, Senator Carroll introduced SB 1500, a bill that would have empowered the state treasurer to prohibit Arizona from taking environmental or social considerations into account when making investment decisions, and from working with investment managers who engage in the “boycott of an energy company.” Eric Bledsoe, a senior fellow at FGA and a visiting fellow at its lobbying arm, testified in support of the bill in both the Senate and the House. During the Senate Government Committee’s February 15, 2023 hearing on SB 1500, Bledsoe claimed that “ESG is a practice that lines the pockets of political operatives with the life savings of Arizonans.” The legislation passed both chambers but was vetoed by the state’s governor.

FGA’s role in drafting legislation and providing expert testimony complements the roles of other anti-ESG groups, like Heritage Action, which coordinate non-expert testimony, place op-eds in local papers, and conduct registered lobbying in states.

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FGA Primes Secretaries of State

In states where anti-ESG legislation failed, FGA shifted its focus to secretaries of state, pushing them to enact new regulations that would achieve similar ends. This strategy is consistent with a hallmark of the anti-ESG campaign: the weaponization of down ballot state level offices, ranging from attorneys general, to treasurers, and now, as Documented has revealed, secretaries of state. Materials obtained by Documented show that FGA’s regulatory efforts succeeded in Missouri, and were influential in Mississippi and Wyoming.


In Missouri, as the legislature considered bills targeting ESG in the 2022-2023 legislative session, FGA was in frequent contact with Missouri Secretary of State, Jay Ashcroft.

As CNN reported, "emails show the group strategized with the secretary of state’s office for weeks leading up to Ashcroft proposing his own such rule" in January 2023, which was codified several months later. FGA would later appear to take credit for drafting Missouri's rule, and cited it as a model in a draft memo titled, "What Secretaries of State Can Do to Challenge the Threat of ESG."

FGA’s rule forces financial advisers’ clients to sign a consent form every time the advisor uses ESG disclosures to guide investment advice, and is aimed at making the use of ESG disclosures more onerous. The outcome is similar to the aim of the seven anti-ESG bills that the Missouri legislature failed to pass in the 2022-23 session, which also sought to create hurdles to the use of ESG through complicated consent mandates. Thus FGA successfully pushed an anti-ESG agenda through regulation that failed to pass through the legislative process. The rule is now being challenged in court.

Despite the Missouri legislature failing to pass anti-ESG legislation, CNN reported:

"Ashcroft’s collaboration with FGA carried on. The group even drafted and sent an op-ed to his staff. It criticized President Joe Biden’s veto of a GOP bill in Congress that would have prevented pension fund managers from considering factors like climate change in investment decisions, emails to Ashcroft’s office show. That op-ed was submitted nearly verbatim to the National Review, a leading conservative magazine.

'Here’s the full edited version National Review sent to me, if Jay wants to give this a 30-second glance over,' an FGA official wrote to an Ashcroft staffer. The piece was published under Ashcroft’s byline the next day. He then promoted the article as part of his efforts to fight what he called 'woke politics.'"


In Mississippi, a similar pattern occurred. After three anti-ESG bills failed in January and February of the 2023 legislative session, FGA began working with Mississippi’s Secretary of State Michael Watson to enact anti-ESG rules. In March 2023, FGA’s Cambon provided a draft rule on ESG written by FGA, calling it “the same rule” Missouri Secretary of State Ashcroft proposed. Watson also appears to have a close relationship with FGA, appearing in two separate FGA promotional videos last year.


In August 2023, Wyoming Secretary of State Chuck Gray issued an anti-ESG regulation similar to the Missouri rule. Records show FGA offered to have a conversation with Secretary Gray on ESG several months earlier, in January. Like Secretaries Ashcroft and Watson, Secretary Gray also has an existing relationship with FGA on election related issues. In February 2024, Wyoming's governor, Mark Gordon, vetoed substantial portions of the rule.

FGA may be promoting the same anti-ESG agenda in other states as well. A draft memo to FGA partners titled, “What Secretaries of State can do to challenge the threat of ESG” makes multiple references to the Missouri rule, and is designed to spur action by other state secretaries.