We have Tom Steyer’s number. He is a liberal billionaire who, having made a fortune investing in old-fashioned energy companies, now styles himself a scourge of global warming. Nevertheless, judging by the temperature under my own collar, he is still contributing to it in his own way. Steyer is a monstrous hypocrite. See John Hinderaker’s post “The epic hypocrisy of Tom Steyer,” as well as the follow-up “New York Times edition” as well.
Steyer’s money makes him beloved among Democrats. He has committed to raise and spend some $100 million ($50 million of it his own money) to the Democrats in the 2014 elections in light of their efforts to do his bidding on what goes under the rubric of “climate,” the “warming” thing having failed to kick in. On Steyer’s bidding, see, for example, Ed O’Keefe’s Washington Post report “What the Senate’s all-nighter on climate change is really all about.” It’s not exactly what George Washington Plunkitt dubbed “honest graft,” but it’s close.
NextGen is spending money to attack Joni Ernst in the Iowa Senate race. Steyer may be working the “honest graft” angle in the midterms, but there is nothing honest about the NextGen attacks on Ernst. You don’t have to take my word for it. The first of three thematically related attack ads run by Steyer’s PAC has been ruled “FALSE” by PolitiFact. Americans for Tax Reform quotes the PolitiFact evaluation of the ad:
It’s back! A claim out of the Democratic Party that numerous fact-checkers debunked in 2010 has made its way to the 2014 Iowa Senate race.
A new ad attacks Republican candidate Joni Ernst, painting her as beholden to special interest groups because she signed a pledge. The ad comes from NextGen Climate Action Committee, a liberal political action committee.
The ad shows a dimly lit room, with two men looking at a picture of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on a screen, while laughing in a slow, almost crazed manner. The screen switches to a picture of Ernst.
“We got her to pledge? Joni signed on the line,” the ad says. “The tax breaks that thing protects are gold. Green light more outsourcing! China, Mexico. All the way.”
Text on the screen says, “Ernst’s Pledge: Protects Tax Breaks for Companies that Ship Jobs Overseas.”
Even though the ad is new, this claim — that a person who signs the Americans for Tax Reform’s pledge is in favor of tax breaks that encourage outsourcing — is not.
We rate this claim False.
The “ship jobs overseas” claim has been repeatedly and thoroughly debunked (Associated Press: ADWATCH: With campaign ads, don’t trust, verify; FactCheck.org: A False Tax Attack) since it first surfaced in 2010.
Steyer’s NextGen Climate Action Committee spent $2.6 million on the ad.
“Billionaire Tom Steyer has been cheated by his political consultants. He should sue them and kick himself in the pants for being a naive rich dilettante taken advantage of by hustlers,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “His consultants claimed to write an ad attacking Iowa Republican Joni Ernst, but they simply plagiarized TV ads from four years ago that were found to be dishonest then. In school, when you turn in the same poorly researched and plagiarized paper twice, you get an F, Again.”
Below is the NextGen ad. I’m including it here so you can see for yourself. To the comments above I would just add that Steyer and his friends think we’re mighty stupid. I’m not saying he’s wrong, but he obviously seeks to exploit the ignorance of low-information voters. As for NextGen and their chosen friends among the Democrats, they must be impossible to embarrass.
In response to the NextGen ad American Commitment has produced an online ad focusing on the hypocrisy of the particular out-of-state billionaires spending millions of dollars to support Bruce Braley. American Commitment thinks psychoanalysis might come in handy. American Commitment’s Phil Kerpen comments: “Freud would have a field day figuring out the minds of liberal out-of-state billionaires Tom Steyer and Herb Sandler, who are hypocritically funding false ads in Iowa attacking fictional out-of-state billionaires…Steyer is actually using money he made in offshore tax-havens to falsely accuse Ernst of supporting offshoring.” The American Commitment ad is below.
UPDATE: Kim Strassel devotes her Wall Street Journal column today to Steyer. Unfortunately, the column is behind the Journal’s subscription paywall, but it is easily accessible via Google. Strassel traces the source of Steyer’s desperation (as I see it revealed in the NextGen ads attacking Ernst) to the unpopularity of his main line:
The left is as split over energy as it has ever been; the public isn’t buying the climate line; and the hedge-fund-manager-turned-activist looks to be regrouping. The Steyer grand plan began unraveling from the start, when stories about his pledge noted that he might target Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu for her support of the Keystone XL pipeline. Mr. Steyer and his NextGen Climate Action PAC had in 2013 won activist praise for defeating a pro-pipeline Democrat in a Massachusetts primary, and the Louisiana idea was to start his midterm strategy with a similar litmus-test bang. A Landrieu attack would send a message: Democrats who bucked the climate agenda would get beaten, whereas those who embraced it would be rewarded with Mr. Steyer’s campaign cash.
Democratic leaders instead flipped out, and quickly schooled Mr. Steyer in the political realities of red states and the magic Senate number of “51.” Within days of the pledge, Steyer operative Chris Lehane was tamping down the Landrieu story, insisting Mr. Steyer did not plan to “tea party” Democrats. “We do think it’s really, really, really important from a climate perspective that we maintain control of the Senate for Democrats,” he explained.
Overlooked was that this single decision wiped Mr. Steyer’s operation off most of the electoral map. If the billionaire could not attack pro-Keystone Democrats, he couldn’t get them on board his agenda. And if they remained in support of Keystone, there was no way the leader of the anti-pipeline movement could—with any credibility—underwrite them. It’s great to have $100 million to blow on midterms; not so great when you can’t spend it in Louisiana, North Carolina, Arkansas, Alaska, Montana, Virginia, Kentucky or Georgia—for starters.
Mr. Steyer was left the scraps of a few Senate candidates who do oppose Keystone: Colorado’s Mark Udall; Iowa’s Bruce Braley ; New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen. Only to then discover that few would benefit from his help—at least not in a state like Iowa, where support for the jobs-creating Keystone project is thunderous, and where Mr. Braley’s opposition is a political liability. NextGen, which bragged in May that it would make climate a “wedge” issue in “political races,” couldn’t even bring itself to mention the environment in its first ad of the political season, against Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst. It instead hit her for supporting lower taxes.
Track down Kim’s column in its entirety for a heartwarming look at the good news she delivers.