Media Disguise Liberal Billionaire Steyer As ‘Climate Change Crusader’

Behind ‘green hero’ mask is a rent-seeking crony capitalist.

Networks Cover Koch Funding 22 Times More Than Steyer: Print outlets admitted Steyer was a major player in Democratic funding circles and has been since the 2006 election. But that wasn’t enough to earn Steyer network coverage. Meanwhile, Charles and David Koch were demonized by the networks as “elite” billionaires who supported “very, very conservative causes.”

Print Outlets Point Out Steyer Hypocrisy, Democratic Funding: If ABC, CBS and NBC wanted to know what Steyer was doing, they didn’t have to look far. They should have consulted either The New York Times or The Washington Post. Together, the papers mentioned Steyer in 110 stories during the same time period and published more than 100 additional blogs, many discussing Steyer’s political activities.

More than $73.8 million to Political Campaigns Just in 2014 Election Cycle: Steyer was already the most prominent donor to the 2014 election cycle, eclipsing other donors on both sides. Then he dropped another $16 million on the election, bringing his grand total near $74 million. This funding mainly went towards targeting campaigns in the seven key states of Florida, Colorado, Iowa, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Maine and Michigan.

Double Standard On The Environment: Even though Reuters and The Washington Post hyped his climate change “conversion,” Steyer’s switch from fossil fuels to eco-activism was not so cut-and-dried. Steyer is an opportunist, campaigning against coal and natural gas where he chooses, and profiting from coal and natural gas investments elsewhere. While accepting awards for environmentalism in the U.S., Steyer was increasing the coal production of Australia and Indonesia by 70 million tons. He’s also set to profit from the “green” energy policies that he endorsed.

Vague Timeline, Low Media Profile Help Steyer: In 2013, Steyer’s Nextgen Climate PAC promised to spend $100 million on the 2014 election -- half donated by Steyer and half raised from outside sources. But when the PAC only managed to raise about $2 million, Steyer denied that he had ever promised $100 million, claiming "somebody I don't know who has never owned up to it." This type of vagueness and timeline distortion has helped Steyer in the past too. Although he now claims that his environmental conversion happened in the summer of 2012, his Center for the Next Generation launched in 2011 and he was funding and campaigning for ‘green’ legislation in California in 2010. A 2012 ‘conversion’ date, however, would mean that his investments in coal up until 2013 would seem less hypocritical.


Liberal billionaire Tom Steyer really hates coal, or so he’s said. He spoke out against it in 2011, warning that such “dirty” fuels were destroying the planet, and that taxing coal plants was worth the potential risk to the economy. He spoke out against “dirty” energy again during his speech at the Democratic National Convention in September, 2012. The New York Times even called him “the most influential environmentalist in American politics,” while The Washington Post classified him as a “climate change radical.”

Meanwhile in Australia, the hedge fund that Steyer started and ran until at least 2013, Farallon Capital Management, was busy finalizing a transaction to create what is on track to become one of Australia’s largest coal mining operations. This deal increased coal production in Australia by a staggering 70 million tons. Farallon’s Australian coal mines were criticized by Greenpeace Australia and outspoken climate change alarmist James Hansen. Yet, Steyer’s political action committee, Nextgen Climate, has cited Hansen at least four times on its website, and praised him as being a “REAL SCIENTIST.” (Capital letters theirs.)

Steyer, the left's "green hero," is a walking contradiction and an opportunist. On the one hand, he regularly campaigned against fossil fuels and spent millions of dollars backing politicians who agree with him. With the other, he stacked up piles of cash he made off those fossil fuels -- sometimes at the same time.

Intent on getting his people elected, Steyer has spent an incredible $74 million on the election just in 2014, more than anyone else. His campaign tactics have ranged from aggressive to obnoxious to simply inaccurate. According to the Oct. 2, 2014, Washington Post, his operation “has paid for 7,050 ads in Senate races in Colorado, Iowa, Michigan and New Hampshire and in the Florida governor’s race.” The newspaper gave one of those ads four out of four “Pinocchios” for being factually inaccurate.

Even his “environmental” campaigning has benefitted his investments in “green” energy. In 2010, he spent $5 million to block California Proposition 23, which would have sought to lower “green” restrictions on businesses until unemployment dropped. In 2012, he backed California Proposition 39, which steered “$500 million toward energy-efficiency projects” in the state. Meanwhile, Steyer has created two renewable energy research programs at Stanford, and founded Advanced Energy Economy, a network of businesses that work together to advance “green” energy policies. Steyer has become a media favorite while he campaigned for legislation that would help him financially. The only thing that seemed certain where Steyer is concerned is that he was just getting started.

The Washington Post, The New York Times and Reuters, have all praised Steyer as a recovering capitalist, who had a “road to Damascus”-like conversion and divested from coal to become an environmental hero. But at least they reported on him. ABC, CBS and NBC didn’t think one of the top liberal political funders was worthy of coverage -- doing just one story on his contributions since September 2011. The print media even suggested him as a possible future candidate for California governor.

Steyer did indeed divest from his hedge fund’s coal, oil and natural gas holdings, but not until after the Australian coal deal went down. Far from being the environmental hero the media paint him as, Steyer is an opportunist. Now he has invested heavily in “green” energy alternatives -- and using his vast resources to try to ban everything else.

It’s unclear how much Steyer made off of his deals. What is clear is that in 2008, he fell off of the Forbes Billionaire’s List. In 2011, he was back on the list with $1.3 billion.

Essentially, Steyer bet on black, and then tried to make it illegal to bet on anything else.

This wasn't the only time that Steyer's actions have posed a glaring contradiction. Back in the early ‘90s, a group of Ivy League students launched a protest against Farallon and Steyer for trying to seize control of an aquifer in Colorado. Groups like the Rainforest Action Network, which would later tout Steyer as a hero, joined the protests, until eventually Steyer and his company backed off.

These protestors also criticized Farallon’s use of the British Virgin Islands, a popular tax haven, as a base for investing some of its money. Consequently, another investment firm Steyer was a partner in, Hellman & Friedman LLC, helped to set up an insurance company on another popular tax haven island, Bermuda. However, the Bermuda tax haven was not brought up in the protests.

Despite being the biggest individual contributor to the 2014 election cycle, Steyer didn't seem to like the idea of being categorized as a liberal mega-donor. Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker recounted how Tom Steyer’s brother Jim had told him that “a friend had asked him if he and Tom were aspiring to be the Koch brothers of the left. ‘Yeah, I like that!’ Jim replied. Tom dismissed the analogy. ‘I completely disagree, because what they’re doing is standing up for ideas that they profit from,’ he said of the Kochs.”

It is true that Steyer didn’t just stand up for ideas that he profited from. He also profited from ideas that he claimed to stand against.

Two Timelines of Tom Steyer