Billionaire and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is testing the waters in Virginia for his new $500 million climate-change project by dropping more than $600,000 on two Democratic Virginia delegate candidates.
Bloomberg's group, Beyond Carbon, donated $613,200 to two Democrats running for the Virginia House of Delegates, according to records from the Virginia Public Access Project.
Nancy Guy, who is running to represent District 83, received two donations from Beyond Carbon Action Fund totaling $348,400 on Oct. 29. Shelly Simonds, who is running to represent District 94, received two donations totaling $264,800 on the same day. Neither campaign responded to a request for comment.
Both of the Republican lawmakers being challenged by Guy and Simonds pushed back against Bloomberg's involvement. Delegate Chris Stolle, who is being challenged by Guy, sent out a press release touting his work on bipartisan environmental bills and noting that the Sierra Club gave him an award for "his work to address Climate Change and sea level rise."
"I have spent my time in the General Assembly proposing bipartisan, common-sense solutions to the effects of climate change," Stolle said in the release. "Voters should be insulted by this bad faith attempt by New York Billionaire Michael Bloomberg to buy the House of Delegates for his fellow Democrats."
Delegate David Yancey, who is being challenged by Simonds, slammed Bloomberg in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon.
"The fact that a New York billionaire wants to buy an Election in Newport News is shocking," Yancey said. "This may play well in New York City, but the hard working people in Newport News will see it for what it is, and they are not for sale."
Bloomberg additionally donated $110,000 to the Democratic Party of Virginia earlier this week, while the Bloomberg-backed gun-control group Everytown for Gun Safety has given more than $1.4 million to dozens of Democratic candidates in Virginia. Everytown expects to spend at least $2.5 million by Election Day next Tuesday.
John Findlay, the executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia, was not as surprised as Yancey that out-of-state billionaires have spent so much on the state's elections.
"Sadly, New York and California billionaires trying to buy our elections is not surprising," Findlay told the Free Beacon. "It happens literally every year in Virginia!"
Bloomberg launched Beyond Carbon in June during his commencement address at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The group is focused on closing every coal-fired power plant in the United States by 2030.
"We’re in a race against time with climate change, and yet there is virtually no hope of bold federal action on this issue for at least another two years. Mother Nature is not waiting on our political calendar, and neither can we," Bloomberg said in the press release announcing Beyond Carbon's launch.
Bloomberg isn't the only billionaire donating to Virginia Democrats. George Soros has spent more than $3 million in Virginia, and his new political action committee, The Democracy PAC, has donated almost $1.2 million to Democratic candidates and Planned Parenthood Virginia, which alone received $350,000. His other PAC, Justice & Public Safety PAC, has spent more than $1.8 million in prosecutor races.
Jim Simons, a hedge-fund manager estimated to be worth $21.6 billion, made a single donation of $150,000 to the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus earlier this month. In 2017, leaked documents revealed that Simons had been secretly amassing billions of dollars in the tax haven of Bermuda for decades.
Donald Sussman, another billionaire hedge-fund manager, donated $100,000 to a Democratic PAC, Win Virginia, which is working to overturn Republican control of Virginia's legislature.
NextGen America, the nonprofit founded by billionaire and 2020 candidate Tom Steyer, has spent more than $119,000 on nine Democratic candidates in Virginia and another $1 million to register young voters.
Virginia's statewide elections will be held on Nov. 5.