Billionaire Environmentalist Steyer's Group Pumps $750K to Defeat Florida's Gov. Scott

Image: Billionaire Environmentalist Steyer's Group Pumps $750K to Defeat Florida's Gov. Scott Hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer. (Karl Mondon/MCT/Landov)

Friday, 01 Aug 2014 10:15 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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Billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer promised to put Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott in the crosshairs in the midterms and last month, Steyer's NextGen Climate Action Committee made good on his word, writing a check for $750,000 in an attempt to make Scott a one-term governor, according to The Naples Daily News.

"Floridians can't afford to re-elect Gov. Rick Scott," NextGen Spokeswoman Suzanna Henkels said. "As a climate denier who refuses to accept basic scientific fact, he has put Florida's communities, infrastructure and economy directly in harm's way."

The New York Times reported earlier this year that Scott "does not believe that science has established that climate change is man-made."

Steyer, a California environmental activist who has vowed to spend as much as $100 million on the midterm elections, both personally and from donors, has a hit list of Republican targets, The Washington Post reports.

The list includes Senate hopefuls Cory Gardner in Colorado, Terri Lynn Land in Michigan, Scott Brown in New Hampshire and Joni Ernst in Iowa. In addition to Scott, the other governors in his sites are Paul LePage of Maine and Pennsylvania's Tom Corbett.

NextGen money helped put Democrat Terry McAuliffe into Virginia's governor's mansion in 2013's close race with Republican Ken Cuccinelli. NextGen spent $11 million in that election, according to the Naples Daily News.

Though Scott's challenger, Democrat Charlie Crist (who was formerly both a Republican and an independent) may get a boost from the NextGen cash infusion, Crist bungled a recent opportunity to capitalize on his pro-environment position when he scheduled meetings with scientists — open to reporters — and traveled the short distance to them "in a private jet owned by James Finch, a developer whose company has been fined by the state for water pollution," according to the Naples newspaper.

The Scott campaign seized on the opportunity to blast Crist.

"Maybe Tom Steyer didn't get the memo that Charlie Crist's commitment to the environment is all hot air," Scott's campaign said in a statement. "After all, Charlie flew on a polluter's private jet last week from Gainesville to Tallahassee [a two-hour drive], then hopped into a Prius to get to an event where he pretended to care about the environment."

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