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Thomas Steyer

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Thomas Steyer
2012 Activity
OpposingProposition 32
Total Donated$500,000
SupportingProposition 39
Total Donated$29,580,000
ProfessionManagement firm founder
Net Worth$1.55 billion
High SchoolPhillips Exeter Academy
Bachelor'sYale University
Master'sMBA, Stanford
Thomas Steyer is the founder and co-senior managing partner of Farallon Capital Management. CNN has described him as "California's hedge fund king."[1] According to Forbes, in 2008, Steyer's net worth was $1.2 billion.[2] In 2011, the magazine ranked his fortune at $1.3 billion.[3] An estimate in March 2014 put Steyer's net worth at $1.55 billion.[4]

Steyer and his wife Kathryn Taylor have four children. They have pledged to donate half their fortune to charity.[5] They own homes in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe, as well as a 2,000-acre ranch in the coastal town of Pescadero.[3]

Former United States Vice President Al Gore called Steyer "Mr. Tipping Point" regarding the climate change political conversation.[6] Steyer's brother, Jim Steyer, announced in February 2014 that he would also be entering the political arena. "You don’t bring a squirt gun to a fight where the other guys have AK-47s. I will tell you this: We’re fearless," Jim Steyer told Politico in February 2014.[7]

According to the Center for Public Integrity, Steyer gave more than $11.1 million to his two Super PACs in 2013 -- the most of any individual, union or company during 2013.[8]

Political issues

Keystone pipeline

Steyer opposes the Keystone Pipeline. In a February 2014 op-ed he wrote: "If approved, Keystone XL will unlock the Alberta tar sands, spur investment in and production of dirty fossil fuels at an irreversible rate and undermine the President's global efforts to reduce carbon emissions."[9] Steyer said the Keystone pipeline makes "no sense" for the United States government and the world.[10] Steyer argued that the Keystone pipeline would not create jobs, as proponents have argued.[11]

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

This pipeline does not go to America, but through America. It doesn’t meet the President’s test for approval. I honestly don’t understand how they can approve it.

—Thomas Steyer,

During the Massachusetts U.S. Senate special election primary in 2013, Steyer's organization NextGen Climate Action ran negative ads critical of Democratic U.S. Representative Stephen Lynch, who supported the Keystone Pipeline. Lynch ultimately lost the primary to Ed Markey, who went on to win the special election.[12]

2008 Financial crisis

Although he previously worked for Goldman Sachs, Steyer criticized the company for receiving preferential treatment from the government during the 2008 financial crisis. In a February 2014 article in Men's Journal, Steyer said his former company "got deferential access and deferential outcomes, and that anybody who doesn't get that is a [expletive] idiot."[13][14]


Steyer opposes fracking. He supports a public vote on whether fracking should be allowed in California. "In California, it takes a two-thirds vote by the Legislature to impose taxes, and in local communities it requires a two-thirds vote to impose taxes," Steyer told delegates at the California Democratic Party's annual convention. "The business community has argued for years that this two-thirds vote is important to make sure they are not taken advantage of. Well, that exact same logic should apply when it comes to fracking," he said.[15]

California extraction tax proposal

At an April 9, 2014 town hall in San Jose, Steyer proposed that a tax of 9.9 percent be levied on each barrel of oil produced in California. He said this proposal would generate $1.5 to $2 billion in tax revenue annually, which he proposed to be then paid back to residents as a dividend, similar to the process in Alaska where residents get direct dividends from oil taxes. The proposal was called an "extraction tax."[16]

Climate change

In October 2013, Steyer published an op-ed with former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and former U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, detailing a project called the Risky Business Initiative that they were collaborating on.[17] The initial report is expected to be released in June 2014. According to Paulson, it will look at the economic impact of climate change on various industries and regions. Paulson said: "We like the fact that we came from different political backgrounds. The whole idea was: Let’s stay out of politics."[18]

Clean Energy Challenge

Steyer delivered the keynote address at the Clean Energy Challenge on April 3, 2014. At the event, Steyer said the energy field is awaiting a technological revolution but policy changes are required to create a clean energy economy. "When you make a ton of money off a subsidy, you will fight really hard to keep it. That is what's happening today," he said.[19] The Clean Energy Challenge awarded $500,000 to "help Midwestern entrepreneurs, students and researchers bring new clean energy technology to the market."[20]

Political giving

In early October 2012, Steyer and other mega-donors were profiled in the Wall Street Journal. Steyer told that newspaper's reporter that until the reporter informed him of this fact, he had had "no idea" that he was #1 on the list of Bay Area political contributors. He also said, "The only times I've gone to a ballot measure was when I felt the system wasn't functioning."[21] A New York Times report in March 2014 mentioned Steyer in the context of big-money donors who are shifting the flow of power in political giving. According to the article, Super PACs are being "overshadowed by donors like Tom Steyer."[22] According to Chris Lehane, a strategist for Steyer, the highly complex California ballot initiatives helped serve as an experiment for an expansion into national politics in 2014. "He didn't necessarily go into California ballot initiatives as if they'd be a beta test for what he's doing nationally, but in effect they served as a beta test," Lehane said.[23]

Republican response

In March 2014, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R) questioned why Harry Reid and other Democratic officials were not criticizing Steyer and his campaign spending, despite the attention they give to the Koch brothers. "I noted with interest the majority leader was hammering the Koch brothers again today, and I wondered why he left out billionaire Tom Steyer, who plans to spend as much as $100 million pushing the issue of climate change in the 2014 election and appears positioned to rival the deep-pocketed Koch brothers. It strikes me as curious that if we are going to demonize people for exercising their constitutional rights to go out and speak and participate in the political process, we would just pick out the people that are opposed to us and leave out the people who are in favor of us."[24]



In February 2014, Steyer announced that his efforts would also look toward the 2016 elections. His strategy outlined a focus on states where a candidate who supports acting on climate change faces an opponent who is a “denier.”[25]


A February 2014 article in the New York Times profiled Steyer and his plans for the 2014 election season. According to the report, Steyer plans to spend as much as $100 million to pressure federal and state officials to enact climate change laws. The campaign would include attack ads against governors and lawmakers. In February 2014, Steyer hosted a retreat asking donors to raise $50 million which he said he would then match. Among the targets mentioned in the article were Governor of Florida Rick Scott (R) and the U.S. Senate election in Iowa.[26]

Politico reported that the $100 million figure was not a ceiling on Steyer's possible spending in 2014. Steyer's organization is called "NextGen Climate Action."[27][28]

According to Betsy Taylor, a leader wealthy climate donors, Steyer’s operation "is going to be very aggressive" and will set itself apart from the efforts of mainstream environmental groups. "They’re fearless. They don’t worry about access to Democratic Party leadership," she said. During the February climate treat, Steyer reportedly mentioned three races that would be targeted in 2014 -- Florida Governor, U.S. Senator from Iowa and U.S. Senator from New Hampshire.[25]

Stance on Democratic candidates

In February 2014, Mary Landrieu, U.S. Senator from Louisiana, said she would find it valuable for Steyer to run ads in her re-election campaign. "It would probably help me in my state if he would run his ads," she said.[29] A March 2014 article in The Hill indicated the Steyer would not support Landrieu because she had come out in favor of the Keystone Pipeline. In addition, his SuperPAC NextGen Climate Action was considering running a negative ad against Landrieu because of her stance on the issue.[30]

Although Steyer said his mission is not to help the Democratic Party, he told NPR in February 2014 that his efforts would likely focus on Democratic candidates. "I am a Democrat. I spoke at the Democratic Convention in 2012. We believe that the Democrats are leading the way on this issue. So it is true that, by and large, we're supporting Democrats. And it is true that when there's a big disparity it tends to be the Democrat who is, in fact, thinking about advanced energy and the need for us to have new and progressive policies. But it isn't true that therefore we are going to go wherever there's a race and support the Democrat. We're going to choose specific races that need our mission," Steyer said.[31]

In March 2014, a consultant for Steyer said that NextGen would not spend money on behalf of Democratic candidates who oppose climate regulation. However, they would not spend money against them.[32]


Steyer spent close to $8 million supporting Terry McAuliffe (D) in his successful campaign for Governor of Virginia against Ken Cuccinelli.[33][34]


In 2004, Steyer was among the country's top five donors to the presidential campaign of Democratic candidate John Kerry. He was a delegate to the 2004 Democratic Party presidential nominating convention. In 2008, he preferred Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama, but once Obama secured the Democratic Party's nomination, Steyer donated and fundraised for the Obama campaign.[3]

Ballot measures



  • As of October 2013, Steyer contributed $500,000 to the campaign against Proposition 32.[21]
  • Steyer was the main financial backer behind Proposition 39. He viewed Proposition 39 as closing a loophole. Proposition 39 requires multistate businesses to calculate their California income tax liability based on the percentage of their sales in California. He said, "We have a loophole. It is worth over $1 billion a year. We should close the loophole, and that is what we are doing."[35]


In 2010, Steyer contributed over $5 million to the campaign for a "no" vote on California Proposition 23 and $1 million to the campaign to defeat Proposition 26. According to MapLight, Steyer together with his wife, Kathryn Taylor, were the 3rd largest donors to the ballot proposition campaigns for the November 2, 2010 ballot.[36][37][38]


Family background

Steyer grew up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. He attended the Buckley School, Phillips Exeter Academy and Yale, eventually going on to earn an MBA from Stanford.[3] Steyer served as Board Chair of the Advanced Energy Economy Institute.[39]

Boards and service

Steyer sits on the Board of Directors of the Center for American Progress, a left-wing public policy research and advocacy organization.[40][41][42]

See also

External links


Wikipedia® has an article on:

Additional reading

Recent news

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  1. CNN, "California's hedge fund king," September 17, 2008
  2. Forbes, "The World's Billionaires: #962 Thomas Steyer," March 5, 2008
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Forbes, "Tom Steyer: Hedge Fund Billionaire's Foray Into Politics," September 21, 2011
  4. OA Online " ENERGY MATTERS: Rich environmentalists’ influence," March 13, 2014
  5. MSNBC, "40 billionaires pledge to give away half of wealth," August 5, 2010
  6. Politico, "Al Gore calls Tom Steyer ‘Mr. Tipping Point’," February 20, 2014
  7. Politico, "The Steyer brothers: 'We're fearless'," February 24, 2014
  8. Center for Public Integrity "Billionaires use super PACs to advance pet causes," February 5, 2014
  9. KSPR "Steyer: Keystone is pipeline to dirty future," February 20, 2014
  10. NPR "Steyer: Keystone XL Pipeline Would Get Canada Better Oil Price," February 24, 2014
  11. Silicon Beat "Tom Steyer: Keystone XL doesn’t meet the President’s test for approval," March 13, 2014
  12. National Review " The Greens’ Malleable Principles," March 19, 2014
  13. Men's Journal "Tom Steyer: An Inconvenient Billionaire," March 2014
  14. Business Insider "HEDGE FUND BILLIONAIRE: Anyone Who Doesn't Think Goldman Got Preferential Treatment During The Crisis Is An Idiot," February 20, 2014
  15. Sacramento Bee "March 8, 2014," Tom Steyer calls for public votes on California fracking
  16. Bloomberg " Steyer Pushes Oil Tax to Pay Dividends to Californians ," April 9, 2014
  17. Washington Post "We need climate-change risk assessment," October 3, 2013
  18. Forbes "Why Mike Bloomberg Teamed With Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson And Hedge Fund Billionaire Tom Steyer On A Project Called "Risky Business"," April 3, 2014
  19. E&E Publishing "Steyer, NRG's Crane share visions for energy industry's future," April 4, 2014
  20. Business Wire "Clean Energy Trust Presents Tom Steyer, David Crane at 2014 Clean Energy Challenge," February 27, 2014
  21. 21.0 21.1 Wall Street Journal, "New Players Amp Up Political Giving," October 3, 2012
  22. New York Times "Big-Money Donors Demand Larger Say in Campaign Strategy," March 1, 2014
  23. National Journal, "Meet the Newest Member of the Super PAC Billionaires Club," March 10, 2014
  24. Los Angeles Times "McConnell says liberal California billionaire just like the Kochs," March 4, 2014
  25. 25.0 25.1 Politico, "Climate billionaire aims to set stage for 2016" February 18, 2014
  26. New York Times "Financier Plans Big Ad Campaign on Climate Change," accessed February 17, 2014
  27. NBC News "Wealthy climate-change activist to spend millions on midterms," February 19, 2014
  28. Politico, "Tom Steyer planning $100 million campaign push," February 18, 2014
  29. National Journal, "Could Tom Steyer's Anti-Keystone Campaign Help Mary Landrieu? She Thinks So.," February 17, 2014
  30. The Hill, "In midterms, a battle of billionaires," March 17, 2014
  31. NPR "Billionaire Steyer Puts Money Toward Climate, Energy Issues," February 24, 2014
  32. Washington Post, "Rich donors press Democrats on climate change," March 2, 2014
  33. Huffington Post "Billionaire Climate Change Activist Tom Steyer Plans $100 Million Ad Push In 2014 Elections," February 19, 2014
  34. Fiscal Times "Clash of the Billionaire Titans," February 18, 2014
  35. 35.0 35.1 Los Angeles Times, "Insurance rate-hike initiative gains high-profile backers," May 1, 2012
  36. MapLight, "$147 Million Spent on California's Nov. Ballot Measures," November 5, 2010
  37. Washington Post, "Buffett and Shultz, allies of Obama and Steyer, endorse Keystone pipeline," March 3, 2014
  38. Washington Post, "Calif.'s Prop 23 battle pits Big Oil against environmental concerns," October 21, 2010
  39. Fort Mill Times "Clean Energy Trust Presents Tom Steyer, David Crane at 2014 Clean Energy Challenge," February 27, 2014
  40. Center for American Progress "CAP Board of Directors," accessed March 22, 2014
  41. Los Angeles Times "Obama gets tough -- with liberals," December 9, 2010
  42. Washington Post "Former White House adviser Van Jones lands new D.C. gig at liberal think tank," February 24, 2010