Eighteen U.S. states join Missouri probe into Morningstar ESG | Reuters

Attorneys general in 18 U.S. states have joined Missouri’s probe into whether Morningstar Inc (MORN.O) violated consumer-protection law with its evaluations of companies’ performance on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, staff for Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said on Wednesday.

Schmitt began the probe last month, and spokesman Chris Nuelle said the office invited attorneys general from states including Texas and Virginia “to widen our pool of resources and share information.”

A list from Schmitt’s office identified Republican attorneys general from 15 states while three more attorneys general were not identified because this was not allowed under their states’ rules, Nuelle said.

Schmitt on July 26 sent questions to Morningstar, asking among other questions about which news sources the research firm uses for ESG analysis. The probe is also looking at whether the firm and its Sustainalytics ESG ratings unit violated a Missouri law aimed at protecting Israel from a campaign to isolate the Jewish state over its treatment of Palestinians.

Eighteen U.S. states join Missouri probe into Morningstar ESG | Reuters

Some of the interrogatories include:

  • Identify and provide all documents and communications relating to the March 16, 2021 statement, “Morningstar Affirms Integrity of ESG Research and Ratings,” including all documents referenced in the statement and documents relating to your internal review. 
  • Identify and provide all documents and communications with the Illinois Investment Policy Board relating to ESG Services or BDS. 
  • Identify and provide all Documents and Communications relating to changes to your ESG services relating to: (1) the May 11, 2022 report from White & Case, “Report of Independent Investigative Counsel Regarding Alleged Anti-Israel Bias in Morningstar, Inc. ESG Products and Services” (“White & Case Report”); (2) Your June 2, 2022 statement, “A Letter from Joe Mansueto and Kunal Kapoor”; and/or (3) the June 22, 2022 meeting of the Illinois Investment Policy Board Committee on Israel Boycott Restrictions. 
  • Identify and provide all documents and communications with any federal government or state government entity relating to ESG Services and BDS. 
  • Identify and provide all documents and communications with any third-party relating to concerns, complaints, or criticisms about ESG Services and BDS. 
  • Identify and provide all documents ranking news sources or assessing their reliability for any of your ESG Services, and identify and provide the “blacklist” and “watchlist” of sources used by the Incidents team researchers. 
  • Identify and provide the Human Rights Radar methodology document, process map, description of standard operating procedures, and analyst guidance document, including all draft, final, and updated versions thereof. 
  • Identify and provide all documents and communications relating to the Global Standards Engagement 2018 report and 2021 update report containing bespoke research on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict area. 
  • Identify and provide any document provided to or reviewed by White & Case in the course of preparing its May 11, 2022 report, “Report of Independent Investigative Counsel Regarding Alleged Anti-Israel Bias in Morningstar, Inc. ESG Products and Services” (“White & Case Report”). 
  • Identify and provide all documents and communications with clients trying to dissuade them from doing business in and/or with Israel. 
  • Provide all documents and communications between any GSE (Global Standards Engagement) engagement manager and any person or entity relating to business conducted in, with, or relating to the State of Israel, any Israeli/Palestinian conflict areas, and/or BDS. 

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