DENVER | There’s a certain chutzpah in liberal billionaire Tom Steyer’s decision to attack Republicans for associating with billionaires.
Mr. Steyer’s NextGen Climate Action super PAC is spending a chunk of its $28 million stockpile of money on hammering Republican candidates in a half-dozen races by linking them to Charles and David Koch — who, like Mr. Steyer, are billionaires involved in political campaigns.
For example: “[T]he Kochs have already spent $3 million to buy @SenScottBrown our Senate seat,” says a Wednesday post on Twitter by NextGen New Hampshire, referring to Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown.
Republican strategist Dick Wadhams called Mr. Steyer a “hypocrite,” noting that he’s pushing a climate change agenda even though reports show he profited from investments in coal projects as founder of Farallon Capital Management, which he left in 2012.
“The hypocrisy is breathtaking with this guy,” said Mr. Wadhams. NextGen Climate Action released a video ad in Colorado last week criticizing Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, who’s running against Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, for attending in June a “Koch-funded retreat” in California.
“What did you promise to get the dirty money?” the ad concludes.
Not mentioned in the video was that Mr. Udall attended a fundraiser in February hosted by Mr. Steyer at his home in San Francisco, shortly after the hedge fund billionaire announced he would spend $50 million and raise another $50 million to promote climate change candidates in 2014.
So far Mr. Steyer hasn’t hit $100 million — the website Open Secrets estimates NextGen Climate Action’s total haul at $27.9 million as of July 31 — but he’s raised enough to open five offices in Colorado and hire 68 staffers, according to a Wednesday report by KDVR-TV in Denver.
NextGen Climate’s strategy so far is less focused on promoting Democrats than with blasting their Republican opponents. Other targets include Senate candidates Joni Ernst in Iowa and Terri Lynn Land in Michigan, as well as Maine Gov. Paul LePage and Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
NextGen released an ad last week in Iowa similar to the Colorado spot attacking Ms. Ernst, who also attended the Americans for Prosperity event in June and thanked the organization for its support, prompting a NextGen post asking, “[W]ill Joni Ernst pay back the Kochs for launching her political career?”
PolitiFact reported that Mr. Steyer led all billionaires in donations with $11 million during the 2014 election cycle as of June 19, followed by two more liberal billionaires, Michael Bloomberg with $9 million and James Simons at $3 million.
The Kochs didn’t make the list, but not all political contributions are required to be disclosed. For example, “social welfare” nonprofits don’t have to reveal their donors but may contribute to campaigns, an increasingly common practice.