With Russian sanctions, NC agencies told to end contracts

By GARY D. ROBERTSON

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Monday ordered state offices under his control to terminate government contracts that benefit Russian businesses in response to its war against Ukraine. The directive also meant some liquor was getting removed from shelves at government-operated alcohol stores.

Cooper’s executive order directs agencies and departments to review existing contracts and terminate those that directly benefit businesses that are headquartered in Russia or have their principal place of business there. 

“The invasion of Ukraine is an attack on a free people. This order sends a strong message and helps ensure no public dollars or operations from North Carolina will benefit Russia and its unjustified aggression,” Cooper said in a news release about the sanctions. “Our state stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine as they fight courageously against a tyrant to defend their country, their democracy and their freedom.”

The state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission was also directed under the order to review products made by Russian businesses approved for sale in North Carolina through local ABC outlets and “to suspend the approval of such products as quickly as practicable.” 

The ABC Commission confirmed the suspension of those products late Monday, which ultimately means ABC stores run by area governing boards won’t offer them for sale. Three alcohol brands appear subject to the order, Cooper’s office said.

The sanction on contracts also applies to future contracts, unless it’s determined by an agency head that a contract is necessary for the agency to perform its work and there aren’t any suitable alternatives. 

The order applies to government entities over which Cooper has executive authority, as well as those for which he appoints the chief executive or a majority of the board members. Other government agencies run by members of the statewide elected Council of State and local governments are encouraged to follow the order, it says. 

State Treasurer Dale Folwell, who oversees the state’s retirement plans and investments, said earlier Monday that there are no plans at this time to divest from Russian holdings unless directed by federal or state regulators. 

Of the state pension plans’ total assets of $118.2 billion, less than $80 million — or almost 0.07% — are from securities from companies domiciled in Russia, Folwell wrote in an email. 

“We will continue to make investment decisions based on what is in the best interest of the members of the pension plans who teach, protect and otherwise serve,” Folwell wrote, adding his office will be “prepared to reallocate investments as circumstances warrant.”

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