Tom Steyer

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Thomas Fahr “Tom” Steyer is an American hedge fund manager and philanthropist who is among the world’s wealthiest and largest supporters of radical environmental groups, left-wing causes, and Democratic candidates. Steyer built his multi-billion-dollar fortune by investing and promoting the coal industry, which has attracted criticism from even left-wing environmental groups.

Steyer was implicated, though never indicted, in an influence-peddling scandal that resulted in the resignation of Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber in 2015. Steyer is also one of the few Americans directly exposed in the 2016 Panama Papers scandal, the leaking of 11.5 million documents that illustrate how wealthy individuals keep personal financial information private and engage in fraud and political corruption.

A big bundler of campaign funds for Democratic candidates – including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton – Steyer is the biggest individual donor to Democratic candidates and outside groups that support Democrats in the 2016 election cycle.

In July 2016, the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, a non-profit watchdog group, released a report titled “Buying the Democrat Party Lock, Stock and Barrel,” which details how Steyer “is seeking to protect his solar energy investments by spending tens of millions of dollars on key 2016 races, buying a plank in the 2016 Democrat platform, and trying to silence debate from those who challenge his view on ‘climate change’ by using select attorneys general to prosecute ‘dissenters.’”

 

Background and Fortune Building

Steyer was born in New York City on June 27, 1957. His father, Roy Henry Steyer, was a partner in New York Law Firm Sullivan & Cromwell and served as a prosecutor at the Nuremburg Trials. Tom attended the prestigious boys’ schools Buckley and the Phillips Exeter Academy, eventually graduating summa cum laude in economics and political science from Yale University. Steyer went on to earn an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. His brother James P. Steyer became a child advocate and civil rights attorney, and is now a director at several Steyer-backed organizations. Steyer’s other brother, Hume R. Steyer, became a trust and real estate lawyer. Tom Steyer currently serves on the Stanford University Board of Trustees and is a director of the left-wing think tank the Center for American Progress and long-time friend of the organization’s founder, John Podesta.

After graduating from Stanford Business School, Steyer worked at Goldman Sachs as an associate before becoming a partner and member of the Executive Committee at equity firm Hellman & Freidman. After leaving Hellman & Friedman in 1986, Steyer took $15 million in seed capital to found Farallon Capital Management, a high performance hedge fund headquartered in San Francisco. By 2011, Farallon Capital Management was the 12th largest hedge fund in the world, managing $21.5 billion in assets.

In 2004, Steyer was on the receiving end of left-wing criticism when student activists at Yale began investigating the methods Steyer used to amass his fortune, seeking disclosure of private equity at universities. Over the past decade, Farallon has become the pre-eminent financer of coal transactions in Asia and Australia, allowing him to accumulate a $1.6 billion net worth. The students formed a group called UnFarallon.info, a repository of negative news on Tom Steyer covering what the site identified as hypocrisy in many his investments. The site revealed Steyer has had direct, personal involvement in assembling a portfolio of strategic investments in overseas coal mines and coal-fired power plants unprecedented in scale. These investment interests promote the exploitation of one of the largest sources of thermal coal in the world, an energy source that Steyer has repeatedly condemned as an environmental hazard. The financing provided by this fund has enabled coal producers to restructure and recapitalize, leading to significant expansion of thermal coal production.

 

Political Giving and Activity

Steyer is the biggest individual donor to Democrats and outside groups that support Democratic candidates in the 2016 election cycle, totaling more than $13 million as of June 2016, according to OpenSecrets.org.

Steyer’s political involvement can be traced back to 1983, in which he worked on the former Vice President Walter Mondale’s presidential campaign. Since then, Steyer has fundraised for the presidential campaigns of Bill Bradley, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Steyer served as a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in 2004 and 2008 and was allegedly considered for the positions of Energy Secretary as well as Treasury Secretary. Steyer was among the top donors of the 2014 election cycle, and has since become an unofficial environmental advisor to Barack Obama with frequent meetings and briefings to the White House.

Steyer used his fortune to become a high-dollar Obama bundler in 2008, urging campaign leaders to persuade candidate Obama to include global warming in his speeches. He donated $50,000 to Obama’s inauguration celebrations, earning him frequent access to senior White House officials and a personal friendship with transition team leader John Podesta, founder of the Center for American Progress (CAP), a left-wing think tank highly influential within the Democratic Party. Steyer donated $350,000 to CAP in 2009 through his TomKat Charitable Trust, a foundation founded by Steyer to fund left-wing causes.In 2010, Steyer gave $1 million to CAP and was appointed to the board of directors, where he has served since 2014 according to the CAP IRS Form 990.

Steyer campaigned in 2010 with former Republican Secretary of State George Shultz to defeat a California ballot measure to repeal a law imposing a “clean energy” tax on large industries. In 2012, he served as chairman for a California ballot measure that imposed punitive taxes on out-of-state businesses. His continued donations and activism made him a delegate and hand-picked speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. During this time, John Podesta recommended Steyer as a replacement for departing Energy Secretary Steven Chu. It was during this period that many of Steyer’s eco-activist organizations came into being and quickly went into action, making Steyer a high-profile opponent of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Steyer is one of 110 partners in the Democracy Alliance, an extensive network of wealthy donors that regularly coordinate their political donations to progressive organizations. He hosted a fundraiser for President Obama in his home during the 2014 election cycle and directed his organization, Fahr LLC; his 501(c)(4) political campaign and lobbying group, NextGen Climate Action; and his Super PAC, NextGen Climate Action Committee, to spend $74 million against Republican candidates for the House and Senate. Only three of the 11 U.S. Senate candidates Steyer’s Super PAC supported won their races.

During his political and financial career, Steyer created a network of at least 13 entities of infrastructure, operatives, analysts, public and corporate supporters, and a constituency mobilization system (See list at bottom of profile). The capacity of these organizations as a political attack and defense mechanism, with a series of complex of alliances, are unparalleled among the Big Green Leaders.

Examples of his influence include attendance at White House staff briefings at the invitation of President Barack Obama, and private meetings with the governors of Washington and Oregon – as well as secret collusions with Oregon government officials to form a multi-state alliance in support of  Obama’s Climate Action Plan. According to the Washington Free Beacon, “top advisers to the billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer helped run a green group, the Clean Economy Development Center (CEDC), financed in part by Steyer himself, that was at the center of a corruption scandal” that forced the resignation of Democratic Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber.

In August 2015, Steyer launched the Fair Shake Commission on Income Inequality and Middle Class Opportunity, purportedly an implicit announcement of candidacy for the 2018 California gubernatorial race.

 

Environmental Giving

Steyer’s environmental non-profit network is so extensive as to resemble an entire government, founded and supported by overseas tax havens and hypocritically, thermal coal production. Steyer has benefited immensely by winning the hearts of left-wing environmentalists while simultaneously profiting from the very mechanisms he purportedly seeks to destroy.

In 2011, Steyer formed the Center for the Next Generation, also known as NextGen, also based in San Francisco. The 501(c)(3)’s mission statement is to promote “solutions to two of the biggest challenges confronting the next generation of Americans: The risk of dangerous climate change, and the threat of diminished prospects for children and families.” NextGen has received $2,280,520 from Steyer himself, $1.25 million from the Kellogg Foundation, $500,000 from the Ford Foundation, and three grants from donor advised funds totaling $4,265,000 from six non-Steyer grants, according to the Foundation Search databank. In 2013, the IRS Form 990 reported total assets of NextGen to be $4.5 million.

The most prominent member of NextGen’s board of directors is Mike McCurry, former White House Chief of Staff for President Bill Clinton and consultant for Public Strategies Washington, Inc. In July 2015, former White House Director of Broadcast Media Andrea Purse took on the role of NextGen’s head of communications. Steyer’s Super PAC Nextgen Climate Action Committee has donated to pro-Clinton Super PACs American Bridge and Americans United for Change, an advocacy group run by the president of pro-Hillary-Clinton organization Correct the Record; Democracy Alliance-backed America Votes; the Truman Project, which backed Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran; and the Virginia arm of the League of Conservation Voters. Steyer’s philanthropic entities include the TomKat Charitable Trust, TomKat Foundation, Beneficial State Foundation, and The Ranch, managed by TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation. The “TomKat” in the names of several Steyer organizations refers to Tom Steyer and his wife Katherine “Kat” Taylor Steyer. Both are participants in the Giving Pledge, committed to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.

Steyer is the founder and chairman of the board at the Advanced Energy Economy Institute, the 501(c)(3) educational affiliate of Advanced Energy Economy, Inc.  The institute was created in 2009 as the Clean Economy Network Education Fund, a project of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and was bought out in 2011 by Steyer for $4 million in 2011-2012. Steyer took over as chairman of the board, phasing out the existing board from 2011 to 2012 and putting his own board members in place. He changed the name but kept the existing EIN (EIN 80-0373801) (the federal Employer Identification Number), which eliminated the need to go through the IRS application process for a new 501(c)(3) tax-exemption. The Institute’s mission is to “raise awareness of the public benefits and opportunities of advanced energy.”  This conglomerate of corporate giants and financial experts is a major challenger to the fossil fuel industries. One board member, venture capitalist Hemant Taneja, is also the chairman of the board of Advanced Energy Economy, Inc. The institute’s revenue has ranged from $11.3 million (2012) to $3.1 million (2013) – with most funding from a $1.5 million donation from hedge fund billionaire Julian Robertson, and another $400,000 from the far-left Energy Foundation.

In 2012, Steyer stepped down from Farallon to become a leading figure in environmental and progressive causes, founding Fahr, LLC, a California Limited Liability Corporation based in San Francisco. Fahr has since become the command and control center under which Steyer coordinates his extensive business, policy, political, and philanthropic environmental efforts. The corporation focuses mainly on “climate change, advanced energy, sustainable food systems, and socially responsible finance, largely focused on accelerating the country’s transition to a clean energy future.”

Steyer also used his Farallon fortune to create an extensive philanthropic and political network, including the creation of the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy at Stanford, the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford, Advanced Energy Economy, Inc. (AAE), NextGen, and other organizations. AAE is a 501(c)(6) trade association representing the advanced energy industry. The organization is active in lobbying and campaigning against fossil fuels and promoting “advanced energy” subsides with a unified industry voice. Corporate members of the group include GE, Microsoft, Intel, Apple, Phillips, Verizon, and many energy-related companies. Steyer was a co-founder of the AEE, but did not remain on its board of directors, opting to run the educational arm of his other tightly connected groups.

In July 2016, the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, a non-profit watchdog group, released a report titled “Buying the Democrat Party Lock, Stock and Barrel,” which details how Steyer “is seeking to protect his solar energy investments by spending tens of millions of dollars on key 2016 races, buying a plank in the 2016 Democrat platform, and trying to silence debate from those who challenge his view on ‘climate change’ by using select attorneys general to prosecute ‘dissenters.’”

According to a story at the Daily Caller, The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) filed a Freedom of Information Act request in hopes of unearthing details of the activities of the Attorneys General United for Clean Power Coalition, which was formed exclusively for the purposes of conducting an inquisition against global warming skeptics.

“Our legal system was not designed to be used as a tool to persecute, intimidate and silence individuals and groups just because they hold certain viewpoints,” Matthew Whitaker, executive director of FACT, said in a press statement. “This unlawful effort is a blatant, Orwellian attack on the First Amendment’s right to free speech and we are going to expose their unconstitutional and unethical actions.”

 

Panama Papers

Steyer is one of the few Americans directly exposed in the 2016 Panama Papers scandal, the leaking of 11.5 million documents that illustrate how wealthy individuals keep personal financial information private – and often set up shell corporations for illegal purposes, including fraud, kleptocracy, tax evasion, political corruption, and evading international sanctions.

The Washington Free Beacon reported in May 2016 that the Panama Papers revealed that Steyer helped finance a company used by China’s former head of state to park investments in overseas tax havens. According to the Beacon, “Steyer’s hedge fund joined a firm with ties with the family of China’s then-premier in an early investment round for a British Virgin Islands-based company, according to incorporation documents on file with New Horizon Capital, a Singaporean corporate law and accounting firm infamous for scandal over opaque financial activity.”

 

Financial Information

The Steyer Empire

Fahr, LLC, San Francisco, California. Coordination center for all Steyer enterprises and subsidiary organizations. Those organizations are:

  1. Center for the Next Generation: 501(c)(3) Policy development, social mobilization, dissemination.
  2. Nextgen Climate Action: 501(c)(4) Opposition attack and political action committee.
  3. Nextgen Climate Action Committee: Super PAC electoral power.
  4. Nextgen Climate America, Inc.: 501(c)(3) Political development center.
  5. Advanced Energy Economy, Inc.: 501(c)(6) Industry trade association.
  6. Advanced Energy Economy Institute: 501(c)(3) Subsidy policy development and dissemination.
  7. TomKat Charitable Trust: 501(c)(3) Private foundation, major giving.
  8. TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation: 501(c)(3) Private foundation for children, natural food.
  9. TomKat Foundation: 501(c)(3) Private foundation, small grants.
  10. Beneficial State Foundation: (formerly One PacificCoast Foundation) 501(c)(3) Community foundation with related business income.
  11. TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy at Stanford: Research and Development Institution
  12. The Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford: Research and Development Institution.

Network Interactions

Thomas F. Steyer Interactive Map and Profile