(This story has been corrected from its original version. The correction clarifies the fifth paragraph to explain that Steyer’s donation was to a ballot initiative committee headed by the candidate, not to the candidate himself. The Daily Caller apologizes for the error.)
Billionaire progressive Tom Steyer, rumored to be a potential candidate for the U.S. Senate or California Governor, has upped his game recently. He has poured $10 million — a pittance for him — into a nationwide advertising blitz calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump. Steyer’s open letter advocating impeachment, and his one-minute television and internet ad, claim that Trump has “brought us to the brink of nuclear war”, is “mentally unstable”, and he has “obstructed justice.” The message in the end is a diffuse but simple one: Trump is a bad President, and therefore he should be removed from office. There’s no waiting around for 2020, for the likes of, say, Tom Steyer.
It is instructive that Steyer’s impeachment ad is about Steyer as much as it is about Trump. The vast majority of the ad consists of Steyer himself inveighing against Trump’s wickedness. Now, it is impossible to take seriously the notion that Steyer’s impeachment campaign will lead to the president’s removal. Rather, it is more likely that Steyer is positioning himself for a run for office. Whatever his motives, it is reasonable to ask: Who is this man, and what does he stand for?
Steyer holds a range of leftist views. Like so many progressive billionaires, he advocates for greater “income equality,” not seeming to realize that a billionaire, merely by existing, and certainly by pouring money into his pet political causes, is an affront to that cause. Steyer favors higher taxes and he support sanctuary cities. Moreover, he has put his money where his mouth is, serving repeatedly as the Democrats’ ATM, spending no less than $90 million in the 2016 election cycle. All of this makes Steyer a rather typical — if especially gilded — California liberal.
When it comes to the environment, however, Steyer’s views stray from the typical, and veer into extremes. Steyer vociferously supported the lawless campaign to protest and block the Keystone Pipeline. He has created and generously funded his own environmentally-focused PAC, NextGen Climate, that dispenses tens of millions of dollars to environmentalist zealots hell-bent on destroying the U.S. energy industry. He has excoriated leading American energy companies as constituting an “Oil Evil Empire,” and he wants to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources at a pace so rapid that it would threaten potentially millions of jobs. Even organized labor, a key leftist constituency, is troubled by this sweeping and radical approach.
Recent reporting by the Daily Mail emphasizes the threat that Steyer’s environmental agenda represents to the U.S. economy. The newspaper obtained documents linking the Steyer camp to a class action legal campaign against the energy industry. Despite Steyer’s denials that he is involved with lawsuits coordinated by the Pawa Law Group, documents show that NextGen has been kept in the loop. California election records show that in late 2016, Steyer had contributed $30,000 to a ballot initiative committee named for Ed Lee, who would go on to win San Francisco’s mayoral election. The ballot initiative propounded changes on homelessness and housing policies in line with Lee’s campaign platform. In September of 2017, the city filed suit against BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon and Shell.
These lawsuits are a new front in the left’s war on democracy, which attempts to circumvent voters and use the courts to achieve radical revisions to environmental policy or to bankrupt companies that the left sees as environmental bad actors. Needless to say, this strategy, if successful, could be ruinous to some of the biggest companies in America, which employ tens of thousands of workers.
This is not the first time that Steyer has been connected to frivolous legal action against energy companies, nor is it the first time that his denials of involvement have been proven false. In 2015, New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman opened an investigation into a major energy company’s alleged deception regarding the risks of climate change. In 2016, The New York Post published a damning email in which Schneiderman tried to leverage his crusade against energy companies to persuade Steyer to support him with political contributions. In Schneiderman’s eyes, therefore, it is Steyer who is bankrolling the nationwide legal assault on energy companies.
There is a strain of consistency that runs through all of Steyer’s political activities: He cares not a whit for the rule of law or the integrity of American democracy. He is instead an ideologue who seeks to generate wins for his various causes, no matter the cost. He will pour money into political campaigns to buy votes, despite his theoretical opposition to “soft money.” He will advocate for the invalidation of a Presidential election, and the impeachment of President Trump, based solely on his disdain for Trump and the 63 million Americans who voted for him. He will also pursue a vendetta against energy companies, simply because they dare to sell Americans a product, energy derived from fossil fuels, which is legal to create, market, and consume.
Keep a close eye on the machinations of Tom Steyer. He is the leading edge of a progressive campaign to overturn not just the presidency of Donald Trump, but also many of the principles on which our republic is founded. Having failed to achieve their goals through democratic or legislative means, wealthy activists like Steyer are hoping that the courts will deliver America into their hands. We must do everything in our power to prevent this.
Nicholas L. Waddy is an associate professor of history at Alfred State College.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.