Sen. Kelsey to Prohibit Tennessee Investment in Iran

NASHVILLE — Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) today introduced legislation to prevent Tennessee from investing state employee retirement funds in corporations that support Iran. Sen. Kelsey said the bill ensures that Tennesseans will not support the rogue regime, despite the deadline passing today for Congress to block President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

“Iran’s vow to wipe Israel off the map is detrimental to our nation’s peace efforts in the region,” said Sen. Kelsey. “The President’s nuclear deal with Iran will give it the investment dollars it needs to terrorize the Middle East. Tennessee needs to join other states to stop this from happening.”

The bill is modeled after a 2007 California measure. Similar legislation has passed in over half the fifty states. The Tennessee bill prohibits the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System from investing its $42 billion in state employee retirement funds in companies that invest in Iran.

Rabbi Joel M. Finkelstein, Rabbi of Anshei Sphard-Beth El Emeth Congregation in Memphis, is the originator of the bill in Tennessee. “This bill comes at a time when some view business with this America-hating, terrorist-sponsoring, repressive regime as a business opportunity. This bill sends a clear message. We in Tennessee stand against terror, against hate-mongering, and against one of the greatest menaces in the Middle East at this time,” stated Rabbi Finkelstein.

Iran has the fourth largest proven oil reserves in the world, but it cannot retrieve this oil without significant foreign investment.

While Sen. Kelsey applauds the Tennessee Treasurer for ensuring divestment from these companies on his own, he still thinks legislation is necessary for future Treasurers: “Our message to those companies who would help Iran gain enormous wealth from its oil is simple: Don’t invest in Iran, or we won’t invest in you.”

Democrats in the U.S. Senate today blocked a resolution disapproving the Iran nuclear deal for a third time. Senators voted 56-42 against ending debate on the resolution of disapproval, falling short of the 60 votes needed on the procedural motion. The vote came just hours ahead of the deadline for lawmakers to pass a resolution disapproving of the deal.

A draft of the legislation is available at

Senator Kelsey represents Cordova, East Memphis, and Germantown. He serves as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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