Billionaire Tom Steyer: I'm Not Like the Koch Brothers

Back in February, billionaire Tom Steyer committed to donating $100 million with the goal of making climate change a major issue in the 2014 election. Now Steyer is claiming he is nothing like the Koch brothers, the billionaires designated as villains by many Democrats, most notably Sen. Harry Reid.

"I think there are real distinctions between the Koch brothers and us," Steyer told Politico. "I think they’re in a very, very different position than me and from the people that I work with. And the fact that we’re on opposite sides of the table on a lot of issues — that is true. But the way that we’re approaching them is very, very different."

The difference certainly can't be found in the total amount of money being given primarily to one political party.

The New York Times reported in February that Steyer was committing $50 million of his own fortune plus another $50 million, which he would help gather from like-minded wealth donors. Steyer, who gained his wealth as an investment manager, formed a group called NextGen Climate which encompasses "a super PAC, a research organization and a political advocacy nonprofit."

Steyer's commitment makes his tiny group one of the biggest political spenders on environmental issues. The Times notes that the League of Conservation Voters spent a paltry $15 million during the 2012 cycle.

Steyer's commitment of big money neatly overlaps an all-out campaign by Democrats to demonize similar spending by the libertarian Koch brothers. 

Only two weeks after Steyer announced his plans to commit $100 million to Democrats, the New York Times reported Democrats launched a new strategy for 2014 to make the Koch brothers the face of the opposition.

Since then, Sen. Harry Reid (D) has led the charge, accusing the Koch brothers of being "un-American" and claiming they were attempting to "buy America." His rhetoric escalated as the weeks dragged on. By early April he was tweeting that the Ryan budget was an attempt to create a "modern Kochtopia" -- whatever that is.

Democrats don't seem to have a problem with Steyer's millions affecting the 2014 election. Sen. Reid even attended a February fundraiser with Steyer, where he suggested his millions could help "offset" spending by the Koch brothers. In other words, it's not the big money in politics that upsets Sen. Reid, it's the big money going to the other side.


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