Tom Steyer dropped $74 million in a mostly unsuccessful effort to elect Democrats to Congress and governor’s mansions around the country. That spending bought him extensive access to high-level White House officials, public records show.
Steyer has visited the White House 14 times during President Barack Obama’s tenure, E&E News reported on Monday.
Those visits included numerous trips to the White House in the run-up to the midterm elections, as Steyer poured money into a Super PAC designed to elect Democrats who share his anti-energy agenda.
"It shows Tom Steyer has not just got the ear of the president, but he clearly has the president's attention," said Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist at the watchdog group Public Citizen. "That's what money does buy; it buys access."
Last year, Steyer attended five White House meetings between February and September, the records show. Four of those were with John Podesta, President Obama's counselor and chief environmental adviser.
On Sept. 10, Steyer met with Podesta twice — first on his own and later accompanied by Joshua Fryday, chief operating officer at Steyer's political group NextGen Climate Action. Podesta and Steyer also met in March, along with Fryday and Edward White — a partner at the Denver-based law firm Moye White LLP and managing partner for Fahr LLC, the umbrella group for Steyer's business, policy, political and philanthropic efforts.
In late February, Podesta hosted a lunch meeting with Steyer and George Soros, another Democratic megadonor. That gathering came just days after Steyer's plan to funnel tens of millions to green candidates in last fall's elections went public. The donors and Podesta discussed a range of topics related to climate change at that meeting, Steyer's group told Greenwire in August.
E&E also noted that Steyer is a board member of the Center for American Progress, which Podesta founded and chaired until leaving for the White House.