Published September 8, 2015 | Tagged:
By: Honorable Jeff Atwater

Mr. Atwater is the Chief Financial Officer of Florida and a State Co-Chair of Defund Iran

The sinister machinery of the Iranian regime is not news to Floridians. In fact, Florida was a leader—the first in the nation—to pass a law requiring divestment of public funds from companies that do business with Iran.

In 2007, I co-sponsored Florida’s Iran divestment bill (SB 2142), This bipartisan effort passed both houses of Florida’s legislature unanimously. Since the law’s passage, our State Board of Administration has divested more than $1.1 billion from companies involved with Iran, and 30 states now have similar measures that keep public money from funding terrorism.

But President Obama’s pending deal with Iran is a direct assault on Florida’s divestment from state sponsored terror. What’s more, in the very text of its agreement with Iran, this administration, with disturbing clarity, memorialized its commitment to induce states into abandoning their anti-terrorism policies.

Paragraph 25 of the Iran agreement says:

“If a law at the state or local level in the United States is preventing the implementation of the sanctions lifting…the United States will take appropriate steps, taking into account all available authorities, with a view to achieving such implementation.”

The agreement itself exposes this administration’s plans to use ‘all available authorities’ to force states to follow them down this reckless path. Secretary of State John Kerry admitted as much in his recent remarks to Congress.

Our federal government may choose to open wide the spigot of American dollars to the world’s most vigorous supporter of terror. But we, the American people and its sovereign states, do not have to do the same.

As it stands, Florida laws allow the President or Congress to void our divestment policy. At the time of enactment, this seemed prudent. But at that time, we could not have dreamed that our country’s leadership would enter into an agreement at odds with the sentiments of most Americans and engage with a state that openly sponsors terror, holds American hostages, threatens the stability of an entire region, seeks to eradicate Israel from the face of the earth, and whose leaders presently call for ‘Death to America.’ But that is the reality we live in today.

Today, under the banner of Defund Iran ( I have joined with elected officials, business leaders, pastors and military veterans in 5 states to announce efforts to codify terrorism divestiture laws in states constitutions. I’m proud that Florida joins Arizona, Colorado, Missouri and Ohio in this movement as I continue to believe we must use any and all means available to defend against whatever steps may be taken to undermine our state’s policy decisions.

I have written the leaders of Florida’s Legislature calling on them to urgently vet every possible option be it statutory or constitutional amendment and urgently act to preserve and protect our divestment policies.

Floridians should remain proud of the trailblazing reforms we enacted to repudiate terrorism and endorse the goal of eliminating the funding that makes it possible. We stand firm on the founding principle of federalism and the states’ rights that accompany it.

One person should not have the power to undo the policies of a state of 20 million people. For that reason, it is imperative that Florida lead the charge—just as we did in establishing our sanctions—to shield states from the federal government’s attacks on our sound and bipartisan policy against funding terror.

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