Top Liberal Megadonor Tom Steyer Upping Funding

de Leon and Steyer (Charley Gallay / Getty)
Charley Gallay / Getty

Top liberal megadonor and California climate change warrior Tom Steyer has kicked up the pace of his political contributions from $9.3 million by the end of January in the 2014 cycle to $13 million in this year’s political contests.

Unlike reliable liberal bulge-bracket funders George Soros and Haim and Cheryl Saban, who have given $7 million and $5 million respectively so far to the Priorities USA Action Super-PAC that backs Hillary Clinton, Steyer is again lasering in on Congressional and state races.

The former coal baron went on to pour in a total of $66.9 million to the 2014 election cycle, through his Next Gen Climate Action Committee. But with the pace of his early giving up 40 percent, Steyer is on course to shovel in $94 million by November.

In the 2014 mid-term Congressional races, Next Gen gave $19.5 million to House and Senate members that parroted his radical climate change agenda. He also gave $5 million to the Democrat Party’s Senate Majority PAC.

Steyer appears to be following the same script as in 2014, when he spent over half his contributions on digital advertising, direct mail, and issue-based TV ads that don’t directly mention candidates.

Steyer’s Super PAC has yet to spend any money so far this cycle promoting or opposing candidates, but Next Gen has laid the groundwork by spending $17 million on digital buys. Most of his cash this cycle is being funneled through the Bully Pulpit Interactive, which is also employed by the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Overall, Steyer’s Super PAC through January is ranked second on the Center for Responsive Politics’ megadonors‘ list for 2016. The top dog so far this cycle is Long Island hedge fund manager Robert Mercer, who has bestowed tens of millions on conservative outside groups. Mercer’s biggest play is the jaw-dropping $11 million contribution late last year to a Super PAC backing Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in support of his bare-knuckle presidential campaign.

Steyer focuses on dominating the national debate regarding climate change and encouraging lawmakers to pass sustainable-energy legislation.

Although Steyer likes to sound high-minded, he liquidated all his fossil-fuel energy investments and then personally loaded up on supposedly “green energy” wind and solar before beginning his quest to shut down the coal and oil industries,

The closest Steyer has come to dipping his toe into the 2016 presidential cycle is chipping in a $250,000 gift last year to American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic opposition research group that, according to the non-partisan blog, is now solely focused on Clinton’s election.

Clinton historically has only voiced a modest clean energy agenda. But Sen. Bernie Sanders’ spirited campaign has forced Clinton to move left on the campaign trail. Although Hillary is now touting a robust green agenda, her biggest contributors continue to be Wall Street investment banks and hedge funds that financed the American fracking boom.

A review of Hillary Clinton’s infamous emails released as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit regarding her time as Secretary of State reveal that “Clinton maintained her contact with wealthy donors who had funded her campaigns before and to whom her lieutenants running Priorities could eventually go for funding.”

Despite emails containing embarrassing comments by top bracket Democrat that include Soros, Saban and Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer’s name has been conspicuously absent from the emails.


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