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Sen. Mark Udall feeling heat over ties to climate change billionaire
Question of the Day
DENVER — Not all Coloradans were impressed by Sen. Mark Udall's invitation to liberal billionaire Tom Steyer's exclusive Democratic Party fund-raiser.
Mr. Udall's critics turned up the heat after it came to light that the Democrat was among those invited to hobnob Wednesday with the billionaire at his home in San Francisco for a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) fundraiser.
A former hedge-fund manager, Mr. Steyer made a political splash earlier this week by announcing plans to spend $100 million on promoting candidates in the upcoming 2014 midterm elections who will promise to combat climate change.
Americans for Prosperity-Colorado issued a release blasting Mr. Udall for meeting with "one of the nation's leading enemies of fossil fuel use, even while many Colorado energy workers and companies live in a state of anxiety and uncertainty, facing dual threats from government regulators and professional green extremists."
"It just reaffirms that the senator seems more interested in promoting radical environmental causes than defending the economic interests of Coloradans, many of whom could lose their livelihoods, or see their energy bills soar, if environmental extremists like Tom Steyer get their way," said AFP state director Dustin Zvonek.
Those invited to the private fundraiser include three Democrats facing re-election in November — Mr. Udall, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire — as well as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, according to Politico.
Brook Hougesen, spokeswoman for the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, said the three Democrats "are begging a hedge-fund investor and radical Obama supporter to bail out their lagging campaigns."
Ironically, the Shaheen and Udall campaigns are among those sponsoring a website, Stop the Koch Brothers, that asks supporters to "fight back" by adding their names to a list of people outraged by the political spending of conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch.
"They've already spent $27 million in this cycle in attacks against candidates all across the country — and that's just a drop in the bucket compared to what they're going to spend in the months ahead," said Mr. Udall in a Feb. 16 post on his Facebook page.
An analysis by Open Secrets released earlier this month found that the Koch Industries sunk $18 million into campaign spending from 1989 through December 2013, placing the company 59th on the website's list of "Heavy Hitters."
Six of the top 10 were labor unions that donate heavily to Democrats, led by the government-employee union AFSCME, which contributed more than $60 million during the same period.
"We find it interesting that just days after complaining about money in politics on his Facebook page, Sen. Mark Udall is jetting off for a DSCC fundraiser to collect some of the $100 million hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer plans to give to climate change activists," said Michael Sandoval, energy policy analyst for the free-market Independence Institute in Denver.
"If Udall was really concerned about Coloradans, he'd focus on increasing access for our state's less fortunate by supporting affordable and reliable energy," like the Keystone XL oil pipeline, said Mr. Sandoval.
Mr. Steyer's PAC, NextGen Climate Action, is strongly opposed to the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, saying it would intensify global warming by increasing fossil-fuel emissions.
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About the Author
Valerie Richardson covers politics and the West from Denver. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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