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White House defends meeting with billionaire environmentalist and party donor Tom Steyer

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Obama administration said Tuesday that bringing Tom Steyer to the White House has nothing to do with the fact that the San Francisco billionaire and environmental activist has hosted fundraisers for President Obama and has promised to spend $100 million to support Democratic candidates this fall.

Mr. Steyer, along with former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, will visit the White House Wednesday to brief administration officials on a new climate change report, commissioned by the two men and Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

But Mr. Steyer also brings a deep political agenda. The outspoken former hedge fund manager is perhaps the loudest critic of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, pledging to dump millions of dollars into races this year in an attempt to elect anti-pipeline candidates.

Mr. Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden and others also have visited Mr. Steyer's San Francisco home for fundraisers.

The administration, however, says none of that factored into the decision to invite Mr. Steyer to the White House.

"I have no misgivings about individuals participating in that meeting. Their political activities notwithstanding, the administration is committed to making progress in addressing the cause of climate change and reducing carbon pollution," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. "That's something Mr. Steyer has well-known views on, but there are a lot of other people with well-known views the White House is consulting."

Republicans allege that Mr. Steyer and his financial support for Democrats have led Mr. Obama to block the Keystone pipeline for more than five years, despite the administration's own research showing it won't significantly increase U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions.

"Let's be honest — it's not about the science, it's about the money," Matt Wolking, communications adviser to House Speaker John A. Boehner, said last week. "The obstructionists blocking Keystone have a different kind of green agenda: big campaign donations courtesy of a billionaire super-donor."

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