Among those urging Mr. DiNapoli to step down is the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative nonprofit good governance group in Washington that is known to unearth ethics violations against largely liberal targets. The group also filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service over how the Ben and Jerry Foundation used its funds.
“We’re doing this because someone has to hold Ben & Jerry’s independent board of directors accountable for its anti-Semitic use of its platform and company resources,” said Tom Anderson, director of National Legal and Policy Center.
A spokesperson for Mr DiNapoli said Thursday afternoon that the office had not received a letter from the group. The New York State Pension Fund had invested around $ 118 million in Unilever, the spokesperson said.
Mr Jope has tried to ease tensions over this. At the end of July, he sent a letter to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations expressing the company’s opposition to “any form of discrimination or intolerance.”
Mr. Jope also touched on the complex relationship between Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s. After the takeover of the company by Unilever in 2000, Ben & Jerry’s retained its own board of directors. This council has the right to “make decisions in accordance with its social mission,” Jope wrote.
Ben & Jerry’s, which Mr. Cohen and Mr. Greenfield founded in Vermont in the 1970s, has always promoted a progressive worldview, exemplified by tie-dye t-shirts and ice cream bars called Peace Pops. The founders are no longer part of the four-member board of directors, but its president, Anuradha Mittal, says her role includes making sure Ben & Jerry’s sets standards for other companies.
Ben & Jerry’s spokesperson Sean Greenwood declined to comment on New Jersey’s decision.
State Senator Tom Kean, a Republican, said the move demonstrates the success of the 2016 law that he co-sponsored with State Senator Loretta Weinberg, a Democrat. The law prohibits public investment in companies that engage in boycott, divestment, or sanctions against Israel.