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Assemblyman Calls to Divest Pension Funds of Iranian Business

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The call for terror-free investment of California state pension funds has found a political ally in a state lawmaker from El Cajon. Republican Assemblyman Joel Anderson is pushing for legislation that would divest California money from Iran. Full Focus Reporter Amita Sharma has details.

Assemblyman Joel Anderson wants his colleagues in Sacramento to require the state's pension system for public workers to divest $24 billion from foreign companies like Hyundai and Daimler-Chrysler that do business with Iran.

Anderson : They've gone out and said that they want to develop nuclear weapons. This country of Iran is on a direct collision course with the rest of the world and the United States. It's not a good place to be putting our retirements. I think that as a member of CalPERS sitting on that committee, I have a fiduciary responsibility to make sure we have prudent investments.

Anderson says his bill has both bipartisan and public support.

Anderson : People get it. People understand that if the money starts in our pocket and ends up in Hezbollah's pocket that we've got to stop that. Everybody understands that it's not a good business practice to be funding a rogue nation that just recently kidnapped 15 sailors from Britain.

Anderson says if the divestment push gains momentum, he believes Iran may feel enough pressure to change its position on its nuclear program and possibly other issues.

Anderson : I expect them to come back to the negotiating table. I expect them to join the world and be a member of society. Right now, they're somewhat of a rogue nation and what makes this so scary is that we have $24 billion tied up there.

Efforts to use divestment as political pressure first surfaced in the mid 1980s as a way to push South Africa to abolish apartheid.

So far, legislators from New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania are looking at divesting from companies that do business with Iran.

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