On Monday, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) held an all-night, 14-hour pajama party in Washington. In between the truth-and-dare games, hair braiding, karaoke and candy and soda binging, Sen. Reid dropped this bombshell: He’s not a fan of the brothers Koch, billionaires Charles and David. Nor does he think much of anyone who disagrees with him on the issue of climate change. In fact, Reid refers to anyone who doesn’t buy into the whole human-caused global warming shebang as … ahem, and my apologies in advance to all those who survived or know a survivor of the Holocaust … a denier:
‘It’s time to stop acting like those who ignore this crisis — the oil baron Koch brothers and their allies in Congress — have a valid point of view,’ he said. ‘But despite overwhelming scientific evidence and overwhelming public opinion, climate change deniers still exist. They exist in this country and in this Congress.’
‘Climate change is real,’ he said, stabbing the air for emphasis. ‘It’s here.’
In this, Sen. Reid joins the wide network of religious shareholder activists who cavil endlessly about the liberal bête noire trifecta: Kochs, Citizens United and climate change. A quick scan of the As You Sow and Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility websites reveals numerous resolutions related to all three topics. One wonders if you’ll hear a peep from them regarding Tom Steyer’s announcement that he would match up to $50 million in donations to his NextGen Climate Political Action Committee.
Your writer isn’t the first to inquire whether Reid’s powwow on the public dime had anything to do with his crush on Steyer, and the liberal hedge-fund billionaire’s pledge to distribute NextGen super PAC’s millions to Democratic Party campaigns:
Now he is rallying other deep-pocketed donors, seeking to build a war chest that would make his political organization, NextGen Climate Action, among the largest outside groups in the country, similar in scale to the conservative political network overseen by Charles and David Koch.
In early February, Mr. Steyer gathered two dozen of the country’s leading liberal donors and environmental philanthropists to his 1,800-acre ranch in Pescadero, Calif. — which raises prime grass-fed beef — to ask them to join his efforts. People involved in the discussions say Mr. Steyer is seeking to raise $50 million from other donors to match $50 million of his own.
The money would move through Mr. Steyer’s fast-growing, San Francisco-based political apparatus into select 2014 races. Targets include the governor’s race in Florida, where the incumbent, Rick Scott, a first-term Republican, has said he does not believe that science has established that climate change is man-made. Mr. Steyer’s group is also looking at the Senate race in Iowa, in the hope that a win for the Democratic candidate, Representative Bruce Braley, an outspoken proponent of measures to limit climate change, could help shape the 2016 presidential nominating contests.
While taking potshots at conservative and libertarian billionaire campaign donors, New York Times columnist Gail Collins gives Steyer a pass.
Tom Steyer? This is another hedge fund billionaire. He’s also an environmental activist who’s investing $100 million in a fund to reward politicians who support climate change legislation and punish those who don’t. The Center for Public Integrity, which dubs Steyer’s new fund a “single-issue vanity super PAC,” is not a fan. But at least he’s not crusading for healthier hedge funds.
Why the kids-glove treatment for Steyer? Well, because who wants to pick on a billionaire who rebrands himself an environmentalist, the contemporary equivalent of donning clerical garb to assume moral authority? Come to think of it, such grace on the cheap might be the same reason AYS and ICCR clergy and religious are welcomed so enthusiastically in the same community while the Kochs are demonized.
Breaking the Environmental Policy Gridlock shows how it is possible, today, to muster a coalition for new environmental programs.