Billionaire’s PAC Targets 7 Republicans Who Doubt Climate Change

By Julie Bykowicz | May 27, 2014

The super-political action committee financed by billionaire and former money manager Tom Steyer will try to raise climate change as an election issue in four U.S. Senate races and three gubernatorial contests this year, the group announced this morning.

NextGen Climate Action Committee had raised $9.3 million through the end of April to spend on 2014 elections — almost all of it from Steyer himself, U.S. Federal Election Commission reports show. Steyer, whose net worth is $2.6 billion, founded Farallon Capital Management in San Francisco.

NextGen will aim its advertising at seven Republicans who have expressed doubt that human activity contributes to climate change or haven’t stated clearly their belief in it.

The group’s Senate candidate targets are Colorado’s Cory Gardner, Iowa’s Joni Ernst, Michigan’s Terri Lynn Land, and former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, who is running in New Hampshire. The super-PAC, which can raise and spend unlimited sums, also plans to attack Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, Florida Governor Rick Scott and Maine Governor Paul LePage.

“The debate on climate change is settled: it is here, it is human-caused, and it is already having a devastating impact on our communities, but we need to accelerate the level of political support to address this critical issue before it’s too late,” Steyer said in a statement. “This means making politicians feel the heat — in their campaign coffers and at the polls.”

Steyer has pledged $50 million of his own money, while trying to raise another $50 million from wealthy donors for the campaign. Through the end of April, FEC reports show, he’d netted just one big check, $10,000 from Mitchell Berger, a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, lawyer and top Democratic fundraiser.

Berger, in an interview last month with Bloomberg News, said he was motivated by Scott’s inaction on climate.

“My state is deeply impacted by climate issues,” Berger said. “Ask all of our local mayors who deal with the fallout every day. And yet many people, unfortunately, for whatever reason, wish not to confront the issue. Our current governor is one of those people.”

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