No more Ben & Jerry’s Ice cream for the state government according to North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell.
Folwell announced on Thursday, Dec. 21 that the list of companies subject to divestment and contract restrictions has been updated and Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc. and its parent company Unilever PLC had been added to the list.
North Carolina state statute prohibits, “the North Carolina Retirement Systems or the Department of the State Treasurer from investing in any company engaged in a boycott of Israel.”
According to Folwell, because Ben & Jerry’s is boycotting Israel it would be illegal for the state to invest in that company.
Folwell has ordered the divestment of $40 million in Unilever assets and has instructed that local governments and state agencies be notified that they are prohibited from contracting with Ben & Jerrys or the parent company Unilever.
In the press release Folwell stated, “We have policies in place per state law that dictate how we should proceed on any holdings in the retirement system of companies that boycott Israel and their affiliates. We follow the policies and the law. This is particularly important in this case as we have witnessed the atrocities perpetuated against the Israeli people. There is no place for antisemitism in this state or this country.”
When you’re talking about the state retirement systems, you’re not talking small potatoes. The North Carolina Retirement Systems provides retirement benefits and savings for more than 1 million members, including teachers, firefighters, police officers and other state and local government employees. The Department of the State Treasurer manages the pension plans’ investments that currently total $117.9 billion.
Folwell was first elected state treasurer in 2016 and reelected in 2020, but is not running for a third term. Folwell is currently running for governor in the Republican Primary.