Liberal Billionaires Flood 2013 With Outside Money

Mark Zuckerberg / AP
• November 1, 2013 10:28 am


Politico has named 2013 the "year of the liberal billionaire," with wealthy left-leaning billionaires spending well over $25 million pushing progressive candidates and causes.

Outside spending in support of liberal causes has significantly outweighed spending on the right this year, Politico reports.

In the off-year campaigns of 2013, liberal and Democratic interests have enjoyed a decisive advantage in the billionaire spending bracket. Indeed, groups tied to just three liberal-leaning billionaires – New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, California investor Tom Steyer and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg – have spent well over $25 million this year pushing progressive candidates and causes. […]

The left’s swift embrace of outside money is both disheartening to campaign finance reformers and maddening to Republicans, who argue that the media and political community hold wealthy progressives to a different standard than donors like the Kochs.

This embrace of outside money has extended to elections far from the New York or California homes of the liberal financiers.

The current election in Virginia is a case in point: Bloomberg’s Independence USA PAC is on track to spend $3 million by Election Day targeting the Republican candidates for governor and attorney general on the issue of gun control. Steyer, a hedge fund executive, has spent millions through the group NextGen Climate Action on digital and turnout programs, as well as countless negative ads against GOP gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli.

Both Bloomberg and Steyer have been ubiquitous in other 2013 elections: Bloomberg spent some $2.2 million against a National Rifle Association-linked House candidate in Illinois earlier this year, and about a million dollars boosting now-Sen. Cory Booker in a New Jersey special election. He also cut a $350,000 check to a group defending two Colorado state legislators facing recall elections over their support for gun control.

Steyer, meanwhile, put over a million of his own dollars into the Massachusetts Senate special election that resulted in victory for Democrat Ed Markey, attacking both the Republican nominee in the race and Markey’s primary opponent, Rep. Stephen Lynch, whom he viewed as insufficiently committed to fighting climate change.