Texas Attorney General Dan Morales is urging four big state institutional investors to divest their holdings in tobacco-related stocks. The funds ``should possess no financial interest in placing our children on a course which leads to disease and death,'' he said. The funds, which hold an estimated $524 million combined in tobacco stocks, are the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, Employees' Retirement System of Texas, Permanent University Fund and the Permanent School Fund.
Charles Dunlap, executive director of the Teacher Retirement System, defended the fund's tobacco holdings. He said the fund is governed by fiduciary standards requiring trustees and management to focus on the financial goals of the trust. ``Governing law requires that they not be influenced by personal and social or political issues,'' he said.