DeSantis plans to fight ‘woke ideology’ of Paypal and other financial services

The legislation would ban credit card companies, banks and money transfer services from refusing transactions to individuals based on political or religious ideology.
Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference at Harpoon Harry's Crab House in Tampa on Wednesday.
Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference at Harpoon Harry's Crab House in Tampa on Wednesday. [ CHRIS HIPPENSTEEL | Times (2022) ]
Published July 27, 2022|Updated July 27, 2022

Gov. Ron DeSantis plans to make money transfer services such as PayPal — as well as credit cards and banks — the next targets in his campaign against “woke ideology,” announcing Wednesday a set of measures ahead of the next legislative session.

The proposals, which DeSantis said would include a combination of legislative and executive initiatives, would ban credit card companies and money transfer services from “discriminating” against users based on political or religious ideology.

Banks, credit cards and money transfer services “should not be colluding with one another to marginalize people that they have political disagreements with,” DeSantis said, addressing an audience in the wood-paneled dining area at Harpoon Harry’s Crab House in downtown Tampa. “That is not the way you can run an economy effectively.”

DeSantis singled out PayPal as a company his proposed measures would affect.

PayPal has previously cut off accounts and fundraising platforms affiliated with far-right groups such as the Proud Boys, but also anti-facism or “antifa” groups, for violating its policy on promoting violence or intolerance.

The governor specifically referenced crowdfunding website GoFundMe’s decision to block donations to a convoy of Canadian truck drivers that shut down Ottawa in January and February to protest vaccine mandates. Earlier this year, DeSantis said he would work with the state attorney general to investigate the company.

Related: DeSantis, other Republicans seize on GoFundMe controversy over Canadian trucker protest

Details of the proposals remain unclear. But they also would prevent the State Board of Administration, which manages Florida’s retirement funds, from considering companies’ environmental or social impact before investing — an approach known as ESG, short for environmental, social and governance investing.

DeSantis said his proposal would require the state retirement fund managers to make investing decisions based solely on return on investment.

Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, the incoming speaker of the Florida House, said at the event he looked forward to working with the governor to advance the proposals.

Related: Incoming Florida leaders Passidomo, Renner point to housing, 'woke' issues as priorities

Renner has previously said he wants to focus on curbing environmental, social and governance investing in the state’s financial industry.

Speaking alongside DeSantis in the Tampa restaurant, he described it as the “woke elite weaponizing American capitalism against us.”

“This is a pocketbook issue, and we will not relent until we start dismantling this dangerous form of ESG,” Renner said.