Category Archives: Tom Steyer

Billionaire puts Dems on the spot over Trump

Repost from The San Francisco Chronicle

Tom Steyer wants Trump impeached, and he’s mad that many Democrats don’t

By Joe Garofoli, April 8, 2018 Updated: April 9, 2018 9:20am
Political activist Tom Steyer speaks during the "Need to Impeach" town hall event at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center, Friday, March 16, 2018, in Cincinnati. Steyer, a billionaire activist also involved in environmental causes, founded the "Need to Impeach" petition campaign on claims that President Donald Trump meets the criteria for impeachment. The event kicks-off a national tour in an effort to generate support. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) Photo: John Minchillo / Associated Press
Political activist Tom Steyer speaks during the “Need to Impeach” town hall event at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center, Friday, March 16, 2018, in Cincinnati. Steyer, a billionaire activist also involved in environmental causes, founded the “Need to Impeach” petition campaign on claims that President Donald Trump meets the criteria for impeachment. The event kicks-off a national tour in an effort to generate support. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) Photo: John Minchillo / Associated Press

Billionaire activist Tom Steyer is bringing a nationwide town hall tour promoting President Trump’s impeachment to Oakland, but he’s got more in mind than leading a pep rally for Bay Area liberals. He intends to shame Democrats who aren’t cheering along with him.

“I think there’s a question about what people are willing to say in public that they know is true,” said Steyer, a former San Francisco hedge fund manager who commands attention in left-leaning circles for the tens of millions he’s spent on registering voters and backing Democratic candidates.

Many Democrats aren’t calling to impeach Trump, Steyer said, “because of political posturing before the midterms.”

Steyer’s appearance Wednesday highlights a stark divide among the most liberal Democrats: Is removing Trump from office “the most important issue in America right now,” as Steyer insists, or is it premature to move before they have what Dublin Rep. Eric Swalwell calls “an impenetrable set of facts”?

Some Democrats fear losing the moral and political high ground by backing impeachment before Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into any Trump campaign ties to Russian election meddling is complete.

It will be impossible to win Republican support for impeachment in the GOP-controlled Congress unless Mueller finds evidence of criminal conduct by Trump himself, Democratic leaders say. Impeachment requires a majority vote in the House, and conviction and removal from office takes a two-thirds vote of the Senate.

“I don’t think it’s helpful for anyone to be pushing impeachment before the investigation is finished,” Rep. Adam Schiff of Burbank, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told The Chronicle’s “It’s All Political” podcast earlier this year. While there is a legal standard for impeachment, he said, there “also a political standard. Can you make the case for impeachment in districts around the country?

“That case will be more difficult to make if it looks like this is where we wanted to go all along,” Schiff said.

Last fall, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco called Steyer’s impeachment campaign a distraction from the party’s efforts to retake the House. She declined last week to talk about Steyer’s town hall tour.

To Steyer, it’s an outrage that in an area with one of the nation’s highest concentrations of Democratic voters, six House members — Pelosi, Swalwell and Democratic Reps. Jackie Speier, Ro Khanna, Anna Eshoo and Zoe Lofgren — voted against an impeachment resolution in January.

They weren’t alone — only 66 House Democrats supported the resolution. Among them were Bay Area Reps. Barbara Lee, Mark DeSaulnier, Mike Thompson and John Garamendi.

Steyer hoped for better. Nationally, more than 5.1 million people have signed his NeedtoImpeach.com petition since October, and he’s put seven pro-impeachment commercials on national TV.

Now, through his 30-stop national tour, Steyer wants to generate public pressure to get Congress to join him, starting with key Democrats near his home.

James Strickley of Erlanger, Ky., asks a question of political activist Tom Steyer during a “Need to Impeach” town hall last month in Cincinnati. Photo: John Minchillo / Associated Press
Photo: John Minchillo / Associated Press James Strickley of Erlanger, Ky., asks a question of political activist Tom Steyer during a “Need to Impeach” town hall last month in Cincinnati. Photo: John Minchillo / Associated Press

He retains a big megaphone in Democratic circles because of the $91 million he spent on left-leaning causes and candidates in the 2016 campaign cycle and the $30 million he pledged to spend on registering 250,000 voters this year.

“Those who condemn Trump but do nothing to back their words with action are enabling the damage he is inflicting,” Steyer said. “Local Bay Area Congress members have repeatedly chosen to ignore their constituents’ voices by voting no on impeachment. The people deserve elected leaders who refuse to back down on our shared principles, and we will ensure their voices are heard.”

Steyer isn’t promising to fund primary challenges to anti-impeachment Democrats. Instead, he envisions his town hall meetings as a “two-way conversation” where he can build public pressure against those who oppose impeachment. He’ll hold his Oakland event at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Impact Hub on Broadway.

Steyer’s target list includes Swalwell, who has shown up regularly on cable talk shows over the past year excoriating Trump for everything from his tax plan to his foreign policy. Swalwell’s House website is filled with charts and videos explaining how “Trump and his team are directly and indirectly tied to Russia.”

But impeachment? Not yet, Swalwell said.

“We shouldn’t run or make this midterm election a referendum on impeachment,” he said. “I think the country wants to be assured that if you were to proceed that way, you would have an impenetrable set of facts to prove that it should happen. And right now we don’t have investigations that allow us to do that.

“I don’t think we should be as reckless with the truth as Trump has been,” he said.

Speier, D-Hillsborough, sides with Swalwell. She has been one of Trump’s most vocal critics in Congress, calling for him to be removed from office under the 25th Amendment, which allows the vice president and two-thirds of the Cabinet to declare a president unfit. She said Trump has shown “erratic behavior and lack of mental capacity.”

But she is not ready to back impeachment yet, either.

“I’m not saying it won’t be appropriate,” Speier said. “But I do not believe that we have the appropriate evidence yet that will make a compelling case. Impeachment is a political act. It’s got to be extraordinarily compelling to get Republicans to support it.”

Steyer counters, “We don’t need any more evidence. The evidence is already there.”

Trump could be impeached for several reasons, Steyer said, including obstruction of justice and violating constitutional bans on profiting from holding his office.

Every day, he said, Trump “does something to make you upchuck.”

Khanna, D-Fremont, said he respects Steyer’s efforts to energize Democratic voters, “but we have different roles. He is a citizen activist and leader. I am a member of Congress who took an oath to the Constitution and (to) follow the legal process that is foundational to our democracy.”

It’s hard to ignore that Steyer’s town hall tour includes three stops in Iowa — the first caucus state on the presidential campaign trail — and other events in swing states Ohio, Virginia, Colorado and North Carolina. But he said the impeachment tour is aimed at registering voters for this year’s elections, not testing his presidential prospects.

“We are really, really, really focused on what’s going on in 2018,” Steyer said. “Anyone who is looking beyond (election day in November) is missing the point.”

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GOP Establishment ties to the stalkers harassing Bill McKibben and Tom Steyer

Repost from DeSmogBlog

How America Rising Ties the GOP Establishment to the Stalkers Harassing Bill McKibben and Tom Steyer

By Ben Jervey • Saturday, August 6, 2016 – 02:58

For the past few months, when they dare venture out to the supermarket, to church, or to a climate rally, Bill McKibben, Tom Steyer, and other climate activists are being stalked by a team of GOP-trained camera operators. The so-called “trackers” with the cameras are working for a group called America Rising Squared (aka America Rising Advanced Research or AR2), and publishing the occasional “embarrassing” display of alleged hypocrisy on a website called CoreNews.org.

DeSmog first covered this new “creepy” campaign back in May, and since then, the harrassment has only gotten worse, as Bill McKibben writes in Sunday’s New York Times. In his op-ed, “My Right Wing Stalkers” (the web headline is: “Embarrassing Photos of Me, Thanks to My Right-Wing Stalkers”), McKibben describes what it’s like to live under surveillance, and the psychological toll that it takes on him and his family. (One particularly infuriating detail: McKibben’s daughter believes that she, too, is being filmed in public.)

McKibben writes:

To be watched so much is a kind of never-ending nightmare. And sometimes it’s just infuriating. I skipped the funeral this summer of Patrick Sorrento, an important mentor to me at my college newspaper, because I didn’t want my minder to follow me and cause a distracting spectacle. When my daughter reports someone taking pictures of her at the airport, it drives me nuts. I have no idea if it’s actually this outfit; common decency would suggest otherwise, but that seems an increasingly rare commodity.

Almost as startling as the tactics of the campaign is how closely it is tied to the mainstream Republican establishment. Core News (and by extension, America Rising Squared) might have the look and feel of a Right Wing lunatic fringe campaign funded by the darkest of oil and gas money. But in actuality it’s a foundational block of a prominent GOP opposition research firm, the heads of which have collectively spent decades working for big name Republicans like Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio, John McCain, and even the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Republican National Committee itself.

Check out this network map (built on LittleSis) to see for yourself how Core News is directly tied to the Republican establishment’s leading opposition researchers. And for good measure, here is DeSmog’s profile of the entire America Rising family tree, with branches including America Rising LLC, America Rising PAC, America Rising Squared, Definers Public Affairs, and Core News.

As you can see, the founders of America Rising are both longtime GOP establishment insiders. Matt Rhoades has worked on presidential campaigns going back to Bush-Cheney in 2004, and was Mitt Romney’s campaign director for his failed 2012 bid. Joe Pounder was Research Director for the Republican National Committee at the time, and it was out of the ashes of that campaign that the idea of America Rising was born.

Brian Rogers, the Executive Director of America Rising Squared, was a longtime staffer with Senator John McCain and—oddly enough—briefly served as research director for Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection.

Of the “trackers” campaign and Core News, Rogers has said his group will “hold Steyer and the Environmentalist Left accountable for their epic hypocrisy and extreme positions which threaten America’s future prosperity.” Though there’s no indication yet that Rogers’ trackers will be following his old boss, former Vice President Gore, around with cameras.

Who is paying America Rising Squared to stalk McKibben, Steyer, and others?

It’s hard to say, as donations to America Rising Squared needn’t be declared, as the entity is incorporated as a nonprofit 501(c)4. In fact, the various entities under the America Rising umbrella give the enterprise a flexible structure that can serve different purposes. The PAC can purchase research from the LLC and can sell or disseminate it to other organizations. The nonprofit AR2 doesn’t have to declare its donors. America Rising LLC is a business that can sell its services with no disclosures necessary.

According to OpenSecrets.org, the Republican National Committee spent at least $183,900 on America Rising in the 2016 election cycle, with an additional $45,000 from the National Republican Congressional Committee. All told, America Rising had a budget of $8 million for the 2014 elections and is seeking to nearly double this.

Again, for a whole lot more background on America Rising, including a list of known leadership and staff and reported funding, check out DeSmog’s profile of the entire America Rising enterprise.

As Bill McKibben sums up in his op-ed, these stalkers aren’t fooling anyone, and the truth is that the entrenched special interests who hired them are the ones running scared:

Merely having someone with a camera follow you somehow makes you feel as if you’re doing something wrong. My house is covered in solar panels, and I plug my car into a socket those panels power. But environmentalists also live in the world we’re trying to change: We take airplanes and rent buses for rallies; we make a living, shop for groceries. None of this should demand an apology. Changing the system, not perfecting our own lives, is the point. “Hypocrisy” is the price of admission in this battle.

And despite what the industry and its advocates insist, that does not make us all equally responsible for the climate crisis.

We’re fighting for policy changes that will make it possible for us to have better choices: utilities that offer us renewable options, electric trains that make short-haul flights obsolete, public transit. Exxon and its ilk have been fighting for decades to keep these choices out of our reach, and then claim that we are voting with our dollars every time we sit in traffic or heat our homes with fossil fuels supplied by a utility that has a monopoly. They can play gotcha as much as they want, but all it proves is how badly we need better options. And we are still going to fight like heck to make sure options are available to everyone.

The fossil-fuel industry may threaten us as a planet, as a nation, and as individuals, but when we rise up together we’ve got a fighting chance against the powers that be.

And perhaps that realization is just a little bit scary for them.

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