Daily Caller News Foundation

Environmentalist billionaire pledges to spend $100 million in 2014 elections

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Michael Bastasch Energy Editor

Liberals have a new sugar daddy. San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer has pledged to spend up to $100 million dollars in the 2014 election cycle to get federal and state level candidates to enact anti-global warming legislation.

“Our feeling on 2014 is, we want to do things that are both substantively important and will have legs after that,” Steyer told The New York Times. “We don’t want to go someplace, win and move on.”

“Is it going to take $100 million? I have no idea,” Steyer added, suggesting this might be a lowball estimate. “I think that would be a really cheap price to answer the generational challenge of the world.”

Earlier this month, Steyer gathered with two dozen leading liberal donors to help him raise the millions necessary to push his environmentalist agenda. People involved in the discussion told the Times that Steyer “is seeking to raise $50 million from other donors to match $50 million of his own.” Steyer’s new fundraising strategy is to tap wealthy Silicon Valley liberal donors, where many rate global warming as a top policy priority.

Steyer, the former hedge fund manager turned environmental activist, has already poured millions into various environmental campaigns and key elections to push his environmental agenda. He spent $11 million to help get Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe win his election last year and has spent $32.3 million backing a 2012 California ballot initiative that used revenues from tax increases to fund green energy projects.

Steyer has also been one of the primary financiers of anti-Keystone XL pipeline efforts. His activist group NextGen Climate Action has funded several media blitzes and campaigns to block the pipeline’s approval.

Steyer’s most recent effort to push the global warming agenda has been to target Democratic Senators who support building the Keystone pipeline, which will bring oil sands from Canada to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.

One of Steyer’s prime targets for this year is Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat. Landreiu is from an oil and gas state and she has urged the Obama administration to approve the Keystone pipeline.

“It would probably help me in my state if he would run his ads,” Landrieu told the National Journal. Voters in an oil and gas state could warm to Landrieu if she’s being attacked by left-wing environmentalists.

Though Steyer has made his name opposing fossil fuels, he made his fortune by investing in them. Steyer’s hedge fund, Farallon Capital, has extensive holdings in fossil fuel companies, including the pipeline company Kinder Morgan — which is building a pipeline that would benefit if Keystone was blocked.

Steyer retired from the firm in 2012, but reportedly left a large amount of his capital under Farallon’s management.

Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter called Stayer a “hypocrite” for holding fossil fuel investments while opposing Keystone XL. Steyer responded by pledging to donate all his earnings from such investments to the victims of wildfires.

But Steyer’s pouring of tens of millions into elections and campaigns has even been criticized by left-wing groups that want to get the high rollers out of politics.

“A small number of the richest individuals in America are attempting to use their enormous wealth to purchase government decisions to advance their own personal interests,” said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, which champions campaign finance regulations. “This is about as far away as we can get from ‘representative government.’”

“We have a democratic system, there are parts we would want to reform or change, and Citizens United is prominent in that,” Steyer said. “But we’ve accepted the world as it is.”

NextGen Climate Action did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

Follow Michael on Twitter and Facebook

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.