Here’s the lede to today’s Politico Morning Energy:
STEYER – I’M NOT THE KOCHS: Liberal billionaire Tom Steyer insisted Tuesday that he’s not the left’s version of the Koch brothers. “That is not something I embrace. I think there are real distinctions between the Koch brothers and us,” Steyer said in an interview with POLITICO and The Washington Post taped for C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers,” which will air on Sunday. Steyer, who hopes to use his vast personal fortune to make climate change a top priority in the upcoming midterm elections, said he’s not entering politics for personal gain. Charles and David Koch’s priorities “line up perfectly with their pocketbooks – and that’s not true for us,” Steyer said.
Steyer’s claims are, in fact, disputable. For starters, as I understand it, the Kochs have given scores of millions to the ACLU, public television, and hospitals, and I don’t believe it’s possible to logically argue that these priorities “line up perfectly with [the business interests of Charles and David Koch].”
And it’s further debatable whether the Kochs’ giving to political non-profits is profit-seeking. To wit, I work at an organization that receives money from three foundations “associated with the billionaires Charles and David Koch,” according to one controversial Washington Post reporter. I presume this is true (although, given the reporter at hand, you could understand why I’d take these “facts” with two grains of salt), and I can assure you: The Koch brothers’ money in no way influences my fight for economic liberty, other than facilitating it.* To cite but one of many possible examples, I wholeheartedly support the lifting of all political constraints on natural gas exports, which would hurt the Koch Industry’s chemical and manufacturing assets.
Aside from that, Steyer seems to misunderstand the charge. I don’t doubt that he has no reason to be venal; he is, after all, in the .000000001%. But I do have reason to suspect he’s a giant hypocrite who once made a fortune off fossil fuels. For more on that, see this excellent reporting from Powerline’s John Hinderaker.
*For that matter, I’m thankful for their contributions, and wish they’d send more. Non-profits like mine survive on the generosity of others. As a card-carrying member of the U.S. LP, one who works for a free-market think tank, I feel absolutely no compunction whatsoever in taking contributions from like-minded, well-accomplished Americans, so long as they respect CEI’s independence of thought. To that end, I’ve been here about 8 years, and no one has ever told me what to say.