Liberal investor Tom Steyer is seeking to differentiate himself from billionaires Charles and David Koch, arguing that those conservative benefactors put their money into politics for personal gain.
“Their policies line up perfectly with their pocketbooks, and that’s not true for us,” Steyer said in an interview set to air Sunday on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers,” as quoted by the Washington Post. “What we are doing is we are trying to stand up for ideas and principles that we think are incredibly important but have nothing to do with our incomes or assets.”
Steyer planned to pour as much as $100 million this year into his NextGen Climate Action advocacy group with the goal of pressuring governors and lawmakers to act on climate change. At least $50 million of those funds were to come out of his own pocket.
He told reporters in the C-SPAN interview that his climate group is “completely open.”
“I think they have not been huge embracers of transparency,” he said of the Koch brothers, as quoted by Politico.
A spokesman for the Kochs disputed Steyer’s characterization of the brothers as self-interested.
“That assertion is false and disingenuous, and people can see through that,” spokesman Robert Tappan told Politico in an emailed statement. “Koch opposes all mandates and subsidies, even when they exist for businesses in which we operate. In doing so, we act against our self-interest. We have been consistent in this position for over 40 years.”
Steyer’s rejection of the Koch comparison follows a wave of attacks Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) aimed at the brothers, including calling their political spending activity “un-American.”
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.