Billionaire Tom Steyer turning his anti-Keystone offensive into an all-out climate crusade for 2014
posted at 1:21 pm on February 18, 2014 by Erika Johnsen
If we had to assign a name to the most tangible reason why Keystone XL is still only a proposed pipeline extension and not yet a physical one, then reason, they name is hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer and his well-monied, self-fancied “green,” and heavily Democrat-donating ilk. Ahead of his reelection, President Obama did not want to forgo this largely California- and Manhattan-based set’s sweet cash monies by green-lighting the project onto which pharisaic environmentalist groups have symbolically foisted all of their climate-change hopes (and only they know why), and that campaign-minded motivation hardly holds any less true going into the midterms or even 2016.
Steyer specifically took it upon himself to create a self-funded, serial ad campaign of ultra-lame, ultra-deceitful TV spots to try and convince the masses that the Keystone XL pipeline somehow isn’t in America’s best interest (a feat of misinformation on which even WaPo’s fact checker called him out with four Pinocchios), but he’s really looking to throw his weight around in the midterms by expanding his super PAC into the climate-change equivalent of Michael Bloomberg’s single-issue Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Via the NYT:
The donor, Tom Steyer, a Democrat who founded one of the world’s most successful hedge funds, burst onto the national political scene during last year’s elections, when he spent $11 million to help elect Terry McAuliffe governor of Virginia and millions more intervening in a Democratic congressional primary in Massachusetts. Now he is rallying other deep-pocketed donors, seeking to build a war chest that would make his political organization, NextGen Climate Action, among the largest outside groups in the country, similar in scale to the conservative political network overseen by Charles and David Koch.
In early February, Mr. Steyer gathered two dozen of the country’s leading liberal donors and environmental philanthropists to his 1,800-acre ranch in Pescadero, Calif. — which raises prime grass-fed beef — to ask them to join his efforts. People involved in the discussions say Mr. Steyer is seeking to raise $50 million from other donors to match $50 million of his own. …
So that’ll be at least $100 million for an all-climate-change, all-the-time approach to various midterm campaigns, but will he content himself with attacking Republicans, or also wield his operation against non-true-believing Democrats, too? Unclear, but I can think of at least one senator for whom that kind of attention would be most annoying:
The new fund-raising push seeks to tap into the booming fortunes of Silicon Valley, where many donors rank climate change as their top political issue. It also signals a shift within the environmental movement, as donors — frustrated that neither Democratic nor Republican officials are willing to prioritize climate change measures — shift their money from philanthropy and education into campaign vehicles designed to win elections. …
This month, NextGen asked supporters to pick one congressional candidate, from five running this year, for the group to target in its next ads. Four of the five candidates were Republicans, including Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. But the fifth was a vulnerable Democratic incumbent, Senator Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, who has close ties to the oil and gas industries and has been an outspoken supporter of the Keystone pipeline.
Then again, maybe an attack from a hyper-progressive, anti-fossil fuels group could only help her in red-state Louisiana.