The governor of Texas wants state pension funds to divest from companies doing business in Iran, a move advocated by Israeli officials he met with last month. Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, said Wednesday he is trying to determine whether he could begin the divestment process without legislation. If he cannot, he said he might call a special legislative session. "This is a country that has a clear terrorist focus, has a clear mission to wipe a friendly democracy and a very close ally of the United States off of the face of the earth," Perry said, referring to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's calls for the elimination of Israel.
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The effort mirrors similar moves in various US states where lawmakers have been considering pulling investment from companies doing business with Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.
Perry has already signed a bill the Legislature passed this spring that directs the $108.3 billion (â‚¬78.6 billion) Teacher Retirement System and $24.9 billion (â‚¬18 billion) Employees Retirement System to get rid of holdings in companies doing business in Sudan because of atrocities in Darfur.
A bill involving divestment from Iran died in the Legislature this spring.
Perry visited Israel last month courtesy of a firm called Global Capital Associates to accept a "Friend of Zion" award from the company. He met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who made the case for divestment, said Texas Secretary of State Phil Wilson, who was present at the meetings.
The governor's office has not yet totaled the amount affected if pension funds divested of companies with Iran ties, Wilson said. Officials with the funds also didn't have an immediate estimate of Iran-related investments.
"We think it's hundreds of millions of dollars," Wilson said in Wednesday's edition of the Houston Chronicle.