Clinton-Supporting Eco-Billionaire’s Money Made Enviro Movement Top Dog In 2016
One of the wealthiest Democratic donors in the country was single-handedly responsible for making the environmental movement one of the highest grossing industries last year.
Billionaire Tom Steyer contributed 85 percent of the industry’s contributions, or $87 million during the 2016 presidential election, according to a May report published on Opensecrets.org. The environmental industry pulled in nearly $112 million in donations last year.
A change in campaign finance laws helped the former hedge fund manager push the environmental movement to the forefront.
Steyer has publicly opposed Citizens United, which essentially allows corporations, unions and individuals to spend unlimited amounts advocating for a candidate’s campaign so long as there isn’t coordination between the two sides. The former hedge fund manager pushed a proposal last year in California to overturn the controversial decision.
All industries benefited from the law change, but Steyer’s chief industry managed to make the most of Citizens United, the report noted. Top individual donors for an industry accounted for 10 percent of the contributions from that industry in the 2016 cycle, the highest number ever recorded.
Steyer has cultivated the narrative that the environmentalist industry is the little guy fighting corporate giants, despite the green industry’s massive gains during that year. He compared himself in 2016 to David in a David and Goliath-like fight against wealthy conservative groups.
He funnels most of his political donations through political action group, NextGen Climate Action, which spent about $20.7 million in independent expenditures in 2014, mostly opposing Republican candidates. Steyer’s money accounts for nearly 100 percent of NextGen’s entire political war chest, a number totaling more than $7,000,620. He has given the group $7,000,000.
NextGen did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s repeated requests for comments. Steyer still maintains his opposition to Citizens United.
Other industries saw their fortunes rise in 2016 thanks to Citizens United, Opensecrets noted. Casinos make up another industry whose rankings have ballooned, for instance. They rose from 36th in 2008 to 18th in 2016, due in part to the political engagement of Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelman, a Republican who supported then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Steyer, for his part, has been charitable with his donations, spreading money to the Democratic Party as well as various environmental groups. His group donated more than $800,000 to help coordinate the 2016 Democratic National Committee, according to financial reports.
His money influenced the Democratic National Committee’s 2016 campaign platform on global warming and green energy, according to hacked Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails uncovered by the conservative legal group Energy and Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal).
The party platform mirrors the wealthy Democratic donor’s mission, in that it requires the U.S. to generate at least half of its energy from non-carbon-emitting sources such as solar and wind by 2030. The DNC “adopted the Steyer agenda word-for-word,” E&E Legal noted.
NextGen published a report prior to the DNC titled, “Fact Sheet: Powering America With More Than 50 Percent Clean Energy by 2030.” Steyer’s money accounts for nearly 100 percent of the group’s entire political war chest, a number totaling more than $7 million.
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