Billionaire Plans To Drop Serious Cash To Pressure Lawmakers On Climate Change

February 18, 2014 7:12 a.m.

A retired investor plans to drop as much as $100 million on attack ads during the 2014 election to pressure lawmakers and governors to act on climate change, the New York Times reported Monday.

Tom Steyer, founder of the hedge fund Farallon Capital Management, is seeking to raise $50 million from donors to match $50 million of his own money for his political organization NextGen Climate Action, people familiar with the discussions told the Times.

The group’s targets include climate change skeptics like Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). But when NextGen asked supporters this month to pick a congressional candidate for the group to run ads against, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), who is a Keystone pipeline supporter, was included on the list of choices, according to the Times.

As she is considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats up for reelection, Landrieu would be an interesting target for NextGen, which tends to aim its dollars at Republicans even if it is critical of Democrats who don’t take strong stances on environmental issues. When asked whether Democratic control of the Senate would be necessary for him to move on his climate agenda, Steyer told the Times that “as long as we have this partisan divide on energy and climate, it’s got to be important.”

Steyer also told the Times that NextGen had no fixed budget and suggested $100 million might be a low estimate.

“I think that would be a really cheap price to answer the generational challenge of the world,” he said.

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