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While "divestment" isn’t nearly as sexy as "war on terror," that’s how Florida Gov. Charlie Crist chimed in on foreign policy at a U.S. Senate debate on Oct. 24, 2010.
As talk turned international, Crist touted Florida’s strong ties with Israel and advocated "keeping an eye" on Iran. Then he pointed to a rare opportunity he had as a domestic leader to take an international stand:
"I am very proud, as governor of Florida, that we signed the first divestment act, as it relates to Iran, divesting any investments in companies that would invest in Iran, because we support Israel so strongly here in this state and this country."
We wanted to check the record. Was Florida really first?
We had to crank the way-back machine to 2007 for this one.
In May that year, Crist’s office encouraged other governors to "follow Florida’s lead in Iran and Sudan divestiture." "As demonstrated by the end of apartheid in South Africa, when a light shines to expose oppression and extremism, the days of injustice are numbered," he said.
Florida was the only state at that point to have moved Iran divestment legislation through the state House and Senate.
In June, Crist signed the "Protecting Florida’s Investments Act." Among other things, it instructed the State Board of Administration to shed holdings with companies that did business in Sudan and Iran.
News coverage at the time noted Florida was looking to "lead the charge" and confirmed that the state sought to cut ties with 57 companies doing energy-related work in Sudan and Iran.
"At least two other states have also passed laws requiring divestiture of stocks tied to Sudan, but Florida is the first state to target both countries," the St. Petersburg Times reported in September 2007.
Bills yanking state pension funds from countries suspected of engaging in genocide or sponsored terror became so popular, the National Conference of State Legislatures kept a list.
But it wasn’t until October 2007 that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a related bill, prohibiting the state’s pension funds from investing in companies doing business in Iran. It had already done the same with Sudan in 2006, before Florida — but that wasn’t Crist’s claim.
He said Florida signed the first divestment act concerning companies doing business with Iran. Media reports and official pronouncements support Crist’s story. We rate his claim True.
CNN "State of the Union" transcript, accessed Oct. 24, 2010
Gov. Charlie Crist’s office, "Florida Governor Crist, Florida legislators take national lead on Iran, Sudan divestiture," May 31, 2007
Pensions & Investments, "Divestment focus shifts to Iran," May 28, 2007
Pensions & Investments, "Florida governor inks divestment bill," June 8, 2007
Office of the Senate Secretary, 2007 Regular Session Summary of Legislation Passed, accessed Oct. 24, 2010
St. Petersburg Times, "Florida looks to lead charge on businesses in Iran, Sudan," April 28, 2007
St. Petersburg Times, "Florida cuts ties to make a point," Sept. 20, 2007
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office, "Governor Schwarzenegger Signs Bill Directing Divestment from Iran," Oct. 14, 2007
National Conference of State Legislatures, State Divestment Legislation, accessed Oct. 24, 2010
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