Times have been tough for Democratic governors. Republicans in November ousted Democrats in Maryland and Massachusetts, both blue-state strongholds, and now another Democratic governor, this one in Oregon, where the election results can’t get a deeper shade of blue, is out. The influence-peddling scandal that took him down further threatens his fiancee and the reputation of a major donor whose billions are beloved by Democrats.
Gov. John Kitzhaber, now in his fourth term, faced embarrassing questions about consulting contracts and six-figure payments by environmental groups awarded to his longtime fiancee. Tom Steyer, the major Democratic donor, is the sugar daddy of one of the environmental groups. Several legislators and newspapers suggested that the governor resign and late Friday, he did. The new governor steps up from secretary of state and she is the nation’s first declared bisexual governor. Progress, ain’t it wonderful?
The state attorney general continues to investigate the role of the fiancee, Cylvia Hayes, as an unpaid “energy adviser” to the governor who received pay from the San Diego-based Energy Foundation. The Energy Foundation is said to have received more than $3 million from a Steyer philanthropic trust, which is believed to have paid Ms. Hayes a six-figure salary as part of a fellowship program with another group, the Clean Energy Development Center in Washington. Wheels within wheels, greased with green lubricants.
The questions are particularly humiliating for Tom Steyer, a onetime coal baron turned green fanatic, who is learning that money can buy a lot, but it can’t buy love. He regularly preaches against the evils of fossil fuels and he’s spending many of his millions to prevent the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Mr. Steyer made his considerable fortune as the manager of a hedge fund that was heavily invested in foreign coal and oil projects. He had a mini-conversion on his own road to Damascus and loudly decries the coal and gas that made him rich beyond the dreams of youthful avarice. He wants greedy energy companies to “pay their fair share” and to do the right thing, as he describes the right thing. Access for cash is unethical, and often illegal, but sometimes it slips the minds of the saviors of the world.
Mr. Steyer was in the news not long ago with bulletins that he was considering running for the California seat in the United States Senate soon to be vacated by Barbara Boxer. The silence of scores of Democrats who have taken his money has been, if not exactly deafening, not loud enough to disturb anyone’s peace. Ingratitude is often unexpected.
Mr. Steyer has spent more than $75 million promoting expensive global warming schemes such as carbon taxes, punitive measures against energy producers and new EPA regulations that would drive up the price of energy for everyone. Mr. Steyer contributed checks to dozens of liberal candidates and ran dozens of political ads that were often misleading and usually described as “goofy.” Few of his candidates won and if he raised anyone’s concern about global warming nobody noticed. Concern over “climate change,” beyond fretting over whether showers might spoil the picnic, began and finished the election cycle at the bottom of the list of concerns to drive voters to the polls. When it rains, sometimes it pours.
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