E&E Legal Letters Issue XII: Tom Steyer uses the Democratic Party to Advance his Self-Serving Renewable Energy Agenda

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by David McLaughlin
E&E Legal Strategic Research Supervisor

In July, E&E Legal issued an extensive reportBuying the Democrat Party Lock, Stock, and Barrel, that details among other things that activist billionaire Tom Steyer is using the Democratic Party to push his self-serving carbon-free energy agenda in the political arena.  A short video accompanied the report.

Although Steyer is the number one donor to the Democratic Party, spending $74 million to help elect Democratic candidates during the 2014 election cycle, and is the party’s leading donor in the current cycle, he only cares about one issue and one issue only: climate change.

Steyer funnels nearly all of his donations through NextGen Climate, an organization he founded and bankrolls to advance his renewable energy plan.  Revealingly, his initiative, outlined in NexGen’s November 2015 report: “Fact Sheet: Powering America With More Than 50 Percent Clean Energy by 2030,” along with an email uncovered from Steyer’s surrogates by E&E Legal through public records requests, has been adopted, almost verbatim, as the 2016 Democratic Party’s climate change plank.  Embracing Steyer’s renewable energy agenda makes perfect sense for the Democrats, as they want to keep their main benefactor happy.

In addition, Tom Steyer is secretly colluding with the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) to recruit governors to join his crusade to hold ‘climate denier’ organizations and companies “accountable” through criminal prosecutions under fraud and RICO statutes.  E&E Legal, through transparency law inquiries, recently uncovered an email from Kwame Boadi, Policy Director of DGA, to Sam Ricketts, an advisor to Washington governor Jay Inslee.  The email outlines Steyer’s effort to encourage governors to join his “accountability” campaign to not only promote his 50 percent carbon-free initiative, but punish ‘climate deniers’ through the criminal justice system.

Steyer doesn’t keep his desire to trample the First Amendment a secret.  As noted in our report, he revealed his disdain for organizations opposing climate change, telling The Guardian, “Anybody who puts out intentionally misleading information I think should be answering to us.”  Presently, Steyer is publically lobbying state attorneys general to join the coalition of seventeen already investigating ExxonMobil, numerous individual scientists, and non-profit groups.  Last April, NextGen hosted and funded a rally in New Hampshire to encourage the state’s Attorney General, Joseph Foster, to join the legal probe of Exxon.

Tom Steyer has good reason to attack fossil fuels, as he is heavily invested in renewable energy, particularly solar.  With hundreds of millions at stake in solar companies such as Kilowatt Financial, Sungevity, and BrightPath Capital Partners, Steyer’s motives are transparent.  His vast giving to the Democratic Party is not about investing in candidates, for the good of the Party itself, or even ‘saving the world from man-made climate change.’ Instead, Steyer is using the Democrats to push laws favorable to the renewable energy industry so he can line his own pockets.

“The fact that Tom Steyer not only seeks to buy elections for his personal gain but is actually trying to bankroll efforts to attack freedom of speech is beyond reprehensible, it’s un-American,” said David Schnare, E&E Legal’s General Counsel.

Over the course of the next year, E&E Legal will continue its aggressive transparency efforts to expose more governors and state attorney generals involved in the Steyer-led attack on the unalienable rights of the American people.