Tom Steyer, the fossil-fuel-powered hedge funder, has suffered a series of setbacks in his $100 million campaign to save the planet from ‘global warming’ by destroying the U.S. economy.
Earlier this year, Steyer announced that he wanted to make climate change a key issue in the 2014 US midterm elections by funding a $100 million action campaign. Half was going to come out of his own pocket – via his San-Francisco-based NextGen Climate Action group; half from fellow liberal billionaires.
However – possibly discouraged by Steyer’s murky past as a financial beneficiary of Big Coal, possibly by the world’s stubborn ongoing failure to show any sign of global warming since 1997 – those liberal billionaires have proved disappointingly reluctant to stump up the greenbacks.
His super PAC, NextGen Climate Action, has raised just $1.2 million from other donors toward that goal, according to still-unreleased figures that his aides shared with POLITICO. And he appears to be struggling to woo wealthy allies in his effort to compete with big money conservative donors — leading some supporters to question whether his fundraising goal is realistic.
So far, the only really big donor to the Steyer cause is Steyer himself.
The numbers show just how hard it may be for Steyer to persuade rich liberals to spend their millions on climate change while voters focus on the economy, immigration and Obamacare. They also call into question whether Steyer can really become the big money titan in Democratic politics — a counterweight to the dominance that deep-pocketed donors like the Koch brothers have achieved in conservative circles.
This has not been a good month for Steyer.
1. It recently emerged that his hedge fund Farallon Capital Management LLC used the same tax avoidance techniques for which Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was so heavily criticised by the Democrats in the 2012 campaign. As Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment, a free market public policy group, told the Washington Times, this smacks of hypocrisy.
To me, the most astonishing aspect of this is the Democrats’ reliance on this guy. While Harry Reid is on the floor of the Senate lambasting out-of-state billionaires for funding political activities, he has no problem using their money when it comes to his purposes. There’s a totally absurd disconnect.
2. A chunk of Steyer’s fortune – the New York Times disloyally revealed – comes from Big Coal. During its period under Steyer’s stewardship, Farallon invested in or lent money to coal-mining companies from Indonesia to China which increased their annual production by about 70 million tons. This is more than the amount of coal consumed annually by Britain and – quite possibly – the equivalent of one melted glacier and at least thirty dead baby polar bears per annum.
Steyer claims since to have seen the light. In a moving piece for Politico, he put an onion to his eye and described tearfully and no doubt wholly sincerely, that the reason he had stepped down from Farallon was because he could not reconcile his “personal values” with “managing a fund that by mandate is invested in all sectors of the global economy, including fossil fuels.”
Anticipating those cynics who have noted that he only kicked his coal habit as recently as the end of June (ie four months after he launched his green campaign – and suspiciously close to the NYT expose), Steyer suggested that Farallon’s sinister coal interests were the result of ignorance, both his own and that of the company’s personnel. “Its personnel were never focused on climate impacts”, he noted. And “the more I learned about the energy and climate problems we currently face, the more I realized I had to change my life.”
Unfortunately, Steyer’s middle name is not “Saul”. Otherwise he would now be able to change it to Paul.
3. No one cares about green stuff any more.
According to the latest polls 1 in 6 say that immigration is the US’s most pressing problem. Just one out of the thousand adults polled considered “environment/pollution” the most important problem facing America today. (Even less than were concerned about “lack of respect for each other” “poverty/hunger/homelessness” and “race relations/racism”).