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[[Category:Political donors, California]]
[[Category:Political donors, California]]

Revision as of 09:56, 26 February 2014

Thomas Steyer
2012 Activity
OpposingProposition 32
Total Donated$500,000
SupportingProposition 39
Total Donated$29,580,000
ProfessionManagement firm founder
Net Worth$1.2 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]

Steyer and his wife Kathryn Taylor have four children. They have pledged to donate half their fortune to charity.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6]

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."[7] Steyer said the Keystone pipeline makes "no sense" for the United States government and the world.[8]

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."[9][10]

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."[11]



In February 2014, Steyer announced that his efforts would also look toward 2016 elections. His strategy detailed focusing on states where a candidate who supports acting on climate change faces an opponent who’s a “denier.”[12]


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.[13]

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."[14][15]

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.[12]

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.[16]

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.[17]


Steyer spent close to $8 million supporting Terry McAuliffe (D) in his successful campaign for Governor of Virginia against Ken Cuccinelli.[18][19]


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.[11]
  • Steyer was the main financial backer behind Proposition 39. He views Proposition 39 as closing a loophole. Proposition 39 will require multistate businesses to calculate their California income tax liability based on the percentage of their sales in California. He says, "We have a loophole. It is worth over $1 billion a year. We should close the loophole, and that is what we are doing."[20]


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.[21]

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]

See also

External links


Wikipedia® has an article on:

Additional reading

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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. MSNBC, "40 billionaires pledge to give away half of wealth", August 5, 2010
  5. Politico "Al Gore calls Tom Steyer ‘Mr. Tipping Point’," February 20, 2014
  6. Politico "The Steyer brothers: 'We're fearless'," February 24, 2014
  7. KSPR "Steyer: Keystone is pipeline to dirty future," February 20, 2014
  8. NPR "Steyer: Keystone XL Pipeline Would Get Canada Better Oil Price," February 24, 2014
  9. Men's Journal "Tom Steyer: An Inconvenient Billionaire," March 2014
  10. Business Insider "HEDGE FUND BILLIONAIRE: Anyone Who Doesn't Think Goldman Got Preferential Treatment During The Crisis Is An Idiot," February 20, 2014
  11. 11.0 11.1 Wall Street Journal, "New Players Amp Up Political Giving", October 3, 2012
  12. 12.0 12.1 Politico "Climate billionaire aims to set stage for 2016" February 18, 2014
  13. New York Times "Financier Plans Big Ad Campaign on Climate Change," Accessed February 17, 2014
  14. NBC News "Wealthy climate-change activist to spend millions on midterms," February 19, 2014
  15. Politico "Tom Steyer planning $100 million campaign push," February 18, 2014
  16. National Journal "Could Tom Steyer's Anti-Keystone Campaign Help Mary Landrieu? She Thinks So.," February 17, 2014
  17. NPR "Billionaire Steyer Puts Money Toward Climate, Energy Issues," February 24, 2014
  18. Huffington Post "Billionaire Climate Change Activist Tom Steyer Plans $100 Million Ad Push In 2014 Elections," February 19, 2014
  19. Fiscal Times "Clash of the Billionaire Titans," February 18, 2014
  20. 20.0 20.1 Los Angeles Times, "Insurance rate-hike initiative gains high-profile backers", May 1, 2012
  21. MapLight, "$147 Million Spent on California's Nov. Ballot Measures", November 5, 2010