Billionaire pledges to “destroy” climate skeptics

Obscenely wealthy retired hedge fund manager will use strength of money in politics to environmental ends

Topics: hedge fund, Environment, Money in politics, tom steyer, Climate Change, Campaign Finance, ,

Billionaire pledges to "destroy" climate skeptics (Credit: Shutterstock/suravid)

California billionaire Tom Steyer is setting himself up as a sort of anti-Koch. The retired hedge fund manager told the Hill that he will dedicate a fortune to fighting climate change through political donations — “he wants to make climate change a campaign issue for years to come and Democratic support for environmental protections as widespread as support for gay marriage and immigration reform,” noted the Hill.

Of course, activists concerned with campaign finance reform and the undue influence of money in politics will not welcome Steyer’s pledge. Others might be pleased that the Koch support for climate skeptical policy will have a match. In the parlance appropriate to an aggressive financier, the green capitalist told the Hill that he planned to “destroy” climate skeptics and sought a “smashing victory.” Via the Hill:

Steyer, whose wealth is estimated at $1.4 billion, last year quit the hedge fund he founded to devote his energy and resources to environmental causes. He has contributed millions to charitable organizations that work on climate change issues, and is a big financial supporter for Greener Capital, a venture firm that invests in renewable energy endeavors.

He has so far spent at least $126,000 on ads in the Massachusetts special Senate election. Despite being asked to stay out of the contest by both Democrats seeking their party’s nomination — Reps. Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch — Steyer targeted Lynch for his support for the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Though he’s hosting a $32,500-per-person fundraiser with President Obama on Wednesday to raise money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, he says he has no plans to discuss his opposition to the Keystone pipeline with the president that night.

Instead, he’s planning to invest millions in races at every level, both primary and general, to boost leaders on environmental issues and to “destroy” those perceived as anti-environment.

Natasha Lennard
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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