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October 10, 2008

Palin to divest

Informed by ABC News that She Owns Mutual Fund with Sudan Holdings, Palin Says She Will Divest
Informed by ABC News that she holds an investment in a mutual fund that owns shares in companies that human rights organizations say help the government of Sudan, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Friday said through a spokesman that she will divest from that mutual fund.

According to financial disclosure forms Palin released last week (r <http://abcnews.go.com/images/Politics/Palin_Financial2.pdf> ).  Palin owns up to $15,000 in Legg Mason International Equities, which the McCain-Palin campaign specified is the Legg Mason International Equity Fund.  That Fund owns shares in two companies the Genocide Intervention Network labels "highest offenders" because, in that organization's judgment, they empower the government of Sudan at the expense of the country's marginalized populations.

With citizens of the world absorbed with dire economic news, it may seem secondary to consider what companies someone has invested in, rather than their current worth. But human rights activists monitoring the genocide in the Sudan insist there is nothing frivolous about trying to convince individuals from investing in companies that help the government of Sudan.
In July, the International Criminal Court's Chief Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, asked the tribunal for an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on charges of genocide and war crimes in Darfur.
"It was recently brought to Governor Palin’s attention that despite what the Sudan divestment online database indicated, one of Governor Palin’s mutual funds held less than 1% in companies doing business with Sudan," said McCain-Palin campaign spokesman Brian Rogers. "Governor Palin will divest from this fund immediately, and is committed to doing everything she can to stop the genocide and atrocities in Darfur,

The Genocide Intervention Network issues a quarterly report, "the Sudan Company Report <http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/10/www.sudandivestment.org/reportrequest.asp> ," which analyzes companies with Sudan-linked operations, and also has a mutual fund screening tool which determines whether mutual funds hold interests in any of those companies.

“The fight against the Darfur genocide must begin at home," said  Mark Hanis,  executive director of Genocide Intervention Network’s  "The Genocide Intervention Network and its partners have called on all presidential candidates to ensure that they do not have holdings in companies identified as 'highest offenders' in Sudan. We are pleased that Governor Palin, and all of the major parties’ presidential candidates, have followed the lead of 27 states, 61 universities, and 20 cities in ensuring that U.S. investments do not support genocide in Sudan.”

Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Joe Biden, D-Del., hold no such investments, according to the Genocide Intervention Network.

In May, after being questioned by the Associated Press <http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/election2008/2008-05-14-mcccain-sells-sudan_N.htm> , Cindy McCain sold off more than $2 million in mutual funds whose holdings include companies that do business in Sudan.

The Obamas did the same in 2007, selling about $180,000 in retirement savings because it was linked to an oil services company that does business in Sudan <http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2007/05/16/obama-sells-investment-with-link-to-sudan/> , the Wall Street Journal reported at the time.

Palin during the vice presidential debate claimed that she had led the charge to divest Alaska's investments from the Sudan.
"When I and others in the legislature found out that we had some millions of dollars [of Permanent Fund investments] in Sudan, we called for divestment through legislation of those dollars," she said.   A further investigation by ABC News <http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/Story?id=5948944&page=1> , however, indicated that while Palin later came to support the bill, her administration initially opposed the bill, and stated its opposition in a public hearing on the measure.

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