- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 8, 2014

This year’s best-known politically active billionaires — liberal Tom Steyer and the libertarian Koch brothers — drew headlines Friday for a pair of hefty charitable contributions, but that’s where the similarities end.

Charles and David Koch donated $25 million to the United Negro College Fund, a gift that will support historically black colleges and provide nearly 3,000 merit-based awards to undergraduate and graduate students, the scholarship organization announced Friday.

“UNCF is proud to announce this new scholarship program that will help motivated and deserving students not just get to and through school, but to become our next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs,” said UNCF president and chief executive Michael Lomax said in a statement.

“We are enormously grateful to Koch Industries and the Charles Koch Foundation for their long-standing support of UNCF and for helping to create new opportunities for earned success and a better future for our students,” said Mr. Lomax.

Meanwhile, San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer announced Friday that he and his wife Kat Taylor have established a $2 million fund for victims of “extreme weather events” caused by climate change.

“Climate change is the defining issue of our generation, and we can no longer afford to wait to address this very real threat,” Mr. Steyer said in a press release.

Mr. Steyer’s announcement was met with cheers from environmentalists but hoots from conservatives, who accused the billionaire of attempting to advance the climate-change agenda by pushing a phony crisis.

Breitbart’s John Nolte called the donation “a public relations campaign to pretend climate change exists,” while Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow Chris Horner said Americans would need a lot more than $2 million if Mr. Steyer succeeds in shutting down oil, gas and coal production.

“The sad truth is that if Tom Steyer gets his way, millions of Americans face dependence on the United States treasury as victims of the climate-change agenda,” said Mr. Horner.

First on the Climate Disaster Relief Fund’s agenda is to aid victims of wildfires, which the former hedge-fund manager linked in a statement to drought and heat that he said were caused by global warming.

“Those affected by the 2013 wildfire season have already felt the devastating impacts of climate change, and while the Climate Disaster Relief Fund will help with their recovery efforts, we must act now to prevent future climate-related disasters,” said Mr. Steyer.

Not everyone in the scientific community shares his view. Auburn University professor David South told a Senate committee last week that the federal government’s increasingly hands-off approach to forest management is fueling wildfires, not atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide.

“This eventually increases the risk of catastrophic wildfires,” said Mr. South as quoted in the Daily Caller. “To attribute this human-caused increase in fire risk to carbon dioxide emissions is simply unscientific.”

The Koch donation to the nation’s largest minority education fund met with some snark on Twitter. For the Kochs, however, that’s an improvement over what happened in March, when labor unions held protests over brothers’ $100 million contribution to New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Prairie Progressive said on Twitter, “Kochs: Sure we’re buying the political system & destroying the social contract. But we gave some $ to UNCF. So we’re good, right?”

Media Trackers Ohio reported that Mark Sweetwood, managing editor of the Youngstown (Ohio) Vindicator, sent out a tweet saying, “I think they just like saying ‘Negro.’”

Such comments drew a sharp rebuke from educator and author Steve Perry, who responded in a tweet, “If you don’t like the fact that someone you are politically opposed to is helping Black kids, stop complaining and put YOUR money up.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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