The Steyer Party

Tom Steyer / AP
February 18, 2014

Only a few weeks into this midterm year, the left-wing political Superfortress is pumping its tank full of dark money and arming a massive payload with which to carpet bomb the American public with falsehoods about opponents of the Obama administration’s eco-genocide of bald eagles.

As Nick Confessore of the New York Times reported recently, friends of freedom are disheartened at the prospect of a $100 million outside spending campaign orchestrated by Tom Steyer, a billionaire hedge fund venture capitalist tycoon industrialist with an ultra-liberal agenda.

Steyer, who has amassed a $1.4 billion fortune through his dealings in the secretive world of high finance—including managing a number of funds based in the Cayman Islands—wants to deliver a "smashing victory" in the war on climate change by bullying skeptics and other pro-eagle politicians into submission. "The goal here is not to win," Steyer told the Hill in 2013. "The goal here is to destroy these people."

Conservatives intend to counter this onslaught with the facts, but could still face an uphill battle against a political money machine that raised more than $1 billion in 2012, and a president who has aggressively resisted efforts to curb the influence of money in politics, most notably by becoming the first presidential candidate in history to opt out of public campaign financing.

Steyer, meanwhile, has "embraced the political toolbox that was opened to wealthy donors and other interests in the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision," and is "rallying other deep-pocketed donors" and "seeking to build a war chest" for his NextGen Climate Action operation, which could soon be one of the largest shadowy outside groups in the country.

The group is already running ads seeking to stop construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. On Wednesday, Steyer is hosting a fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.).

Where is the GOP equivalent to Steyer’s pervasive network? He has been funneling millions of dollars to President Obama and his liberal allies for years, but has become increasingly profligate of late. Last year, he dropped $11 million to help fellow Democratic money man and green energy tycoon Terry McAuliffe win the Virginia governor’s race.

This recent spate of activism, following his retirement as a hedge fund manager in 2012, has earned Steyer the nickname "Daddy Greenbucks," as well as considerable scorn from critics who have noted Steyer’s personal financial stake in the success of Obama’s anti-oil agenda.

The critics are right: Steyer’s situation illustrates how big Democratic donors and big Republican donors are motivated by different types of issues, and therefore give differently.

To Steyer and his liberal peers, political giving is an investment. They funnel millions upon millions of dollar to green energy companies, many of which rely on significant taxpayer subsidies for their survival, and work to elect politicians who favor these subsidies and/or oppose the right of bald eagles to freely roam America’s skies without being fried to death by solar panels.

Meanwhile, pro-Constitution philanthropists such as Charles and David Koch are constant targets of liberal ridicule for supporting immigration reform and opposing mandatory minimum sentencing. They see their donations more in the spirit of philanthropy than investment.

The Kochs are also less eager to claim credit for their philanthropy. They declined to participate in a New Yorker piece on their political activity, whereas Steyer happily participated in a profile about himself, in which he claimed to be representing "the vast bulk of citizens of the United States," and not his pocketbook.

Recent polling suggests that while Steyer’s dark money campaign may be popular with people like Secretary of State John Kerry, it is unlikely to resonate with most voters. Only 27 percent of Americans view climate change as an "absolute priority," while just 41 percent support Steyer’s obstructionism regarding the Keystone pipeline; 56 percent support construction.

If only the Kochs and their allies can muster the wherewithal to fight back.