Liberal Billionaire Steyer Expanding his Political Reach

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Monday, 23 Dec 2013 07:01 AM

By Ellito Jager

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Liberal billionaire Tom Steyer is broadening his efforts to influence elections nationwide, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Steyer, who made his money from a San Francisco-based hedge fund, is bankrolling an array of non-profits devoted to opposing fossil fuels and promoting concern over global warming. He successfully campaigned to persuade Californians to pass a $1 billion annual tax hike — revenues intended to promote energy efficiency.

He left the business world in 2012 and may have an eye on the California governor's mansion or a U.S. Senate seat. Steyer has also reportedly been considered for a cabinet job in the Obama White House, the Times reported over the weekend.

Now he is putting his money on blocking the Keystone XL Pipeline. His claim is that the pipeline will contribute to global warming, a problem which he says, "for whatever reason" is not being addressed.

John Podesta, President Barack Obama's incoming White House counselor, has described Steyer as "good at organizing [core supporters] the president knows and cares about."

But Former secretary of state George Shultz, who has cooperated with Steyer on the tax-hike campaign, parts company with him on the pipeline, the Times noted.

"It is an absolute calamity that it was not approved long ago. With energy, we always need to keep in mind three objectives: security, economics, and the environment," Shultz said. "Oil that comes from Keystone does not go through the Strait of Hormuz. It is secure oil."

Steyer hired attorney Chris Lehane, a former Clinton White House operative, to manage his political efforts against global warming.

Through NextGen Climate Action, Steyer spent $8 million to oppose Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia governor's race mobilizing voters for whom climate change is a priority. Democrat Terry McAuliffe ultimately won the race though there is no evidence that NextGen's intervention was a factor, The Washington Post reported.

The billionaire also injected himself into the Massachusetts U.S. Senate race. There, Democrat Edward Markey, who ultimately won, discouraged Steyer's involvement as counterproductive.

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