President Donald Trump’s criticism of billionaire Tom Steyer’s record as a political campaigner Friday might be a bit overblown, but it is not without an air of truth.
Steyer is a “wacky and unhinged” environmentalist who “never wins elections!” Trump tweeted Friday morning in response to the wealthy philanthropist’s $10 million impeachment campaign. The president’s criticism is especially brutal, considering Steyer’s list of political defeats.
He spent about $86 million in the 2016 election cycle, for instance, in a losing bid to get Democrats elected. Steyer’s political group, NextGen Climate, spent about $56 million in 2016, according to campaign finance data.
NextGen also spent nearly $21 million in the 2014 election cycle, but only had a 38 percent rate of supporting winning candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Steyer spent more than $73 million of his personal fortune that election cycle, only to see Republicans take control of the Senate.
Steyer’s overall contributions dwarfed those of fellow billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a conservative pledged $47 million in donations to Republican candidates in 2016.
Much of his campaign at the time focused on seven swing states, including Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Nevada. The swing state push, Steyer said at the time of the donations, is part of an initiative to engage young people and “awaken our sleeping progressive giant.”
The ad campaign didn’t matter much because Trump ultimately bulldozed his way through the financial clutter on his way to the White House. He won Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes, garnering nearly 70,000 more votes than Hillary Clinton. Trump also won Ohio’s 18 electoral votes.
Steyer crusaded against the Keystone XL Pipeline in 2014, throwing a swanky fundraising party for members of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Nevada Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were among those who attended the $400,000 soiree; they eventually voted against a bill that would have approved the pipeline.
Steyer’s work opposing the line went down the drain after Trump signed an executive order in January approving the project. The Trump administration approved the final stages of the Keystone Pipeline in March, only 16 months after Obama rejected it.
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