Tom Steyer, seen as the liberal answer to the Koch brothers, aimed to tax smokers an additional $2 a pack.
San Francisco hedge-fund mogul Tom Steyer, said to be considering a run for California governor two years hence, is investing some of his big money in a new effort to register voters in San Diego County. As reported by the Los Angeles Times in January, Steyer has already given $200,000 to the state Democratic party for “voter identification, registration and turnout efforts,” in L.A. during this year’s presidential election season.
An anti–greenhouse gas advocate, Steyer has also led efforts to get a $2-per-pack cigarette tax measure on the state ballot. And, according to an April 7 account on Politico.com, the billionaire is planning to use his mega-million-dollar super PAC, NextGen Climate Action, to punish Democrats who backed the Keystone XL oil pipeline proposal. Now Steyer’s Community Empowerment Coalition is employing his “major funding” for “a new effort to register, educate, and turn out voters in the cities of San Diego and Chula Vista, where critical local races are coming up in June.”
That word comes via county Democratic party chair Francine Busby, who adds in an April 14 email soliciting paid campaign workers that “Canvassers are registering people door-to-door, signing them up to vote by mail, and pushing them to turn out in the primary election. In San Diego, they’re also urging support for Proposition I, the Minimum Wage and Earned Sick Days referendum.”
Steyer, famous for having spent $74 million of his personal fortune on a multitude of largely failed Democratic, pro-environmentalist campaigns in 2014, has been cast by some as a liberal answer to the conservative Koch brothers, though they have spent much more. Steyer personally gave $40,000 to the Community Empowerment Coalition on January 26, according to state records. The group’s sole reported expenditures so far this year consist of $400 for accounting services. If Steyer and his coalition get explicitly involved in the San Diego minimum-wage campaign, mayor’s race, and other electoral battles here as promised by Busby, local law would require the group to ultimately report its contributions and expenditures to the city clerk.