OPINION: Tom Steyer And Mike Bloomberg Pose Threats To American Democracy

Nicholas Waddy | Associate Professor of History, SUNY Alfred

Some people are in hysterics over the fact that an obscure Russian internet firm spent $4700 on Google ads designed to influence the 2016 election, but incongruously, those same people are also indifferent to the fact that two ambitious billionaires are plowing hundreds of millions of dollars into efforts to elect extremists, impeach President Trump and sabotage a key part of the U.S. economy: the fossil fuel industry.

It’s all in a day’s work for Tom Steyer and Mike Bloomberg.

Tom Steyer was, not so long ago, an investor in the energy industry himself, but around 2015 he and his political fronts — NextGen America and the TomKat Foundation — began to plow money into campaigns to undermine major fossil fuel producers.

The Steyer camp joined the chorus of conspiratorially minded environmentalists who accused energy companies of concealing their knowledge that their product was contributing to climate change. Never mind that such companies had long openly published reports on the impact of carbon emissions on the earth’s climate. Never mind that fossil fuels and their derivatives are all legal products and integral to the health of the U.S. economy.

The plan of attack, enshrined in the “La Jolla playbook” contrived by eco-extremists in 2012, was to harass fossil fuel producers with nuisance lawsuits, embarrass them, delegitimize them and ultimately drive them out of business.

Now, across the nation, lawsuits against energy companies are actually being filed, mostly by local municipalities and states, with Democratic state Attorneys General playing a particularly prominent role in the legal inquisition against “Big Oil.” And here is where the story of Tom Steyer’s and Mike Bloomberg’s subversion of American democracy gets really sleazy.

In 2016, Eric Schneiderman, who was New York’s Attorney General at the time, tried to arrange a phone call with Tom Steyer to discuss the possibility that Steyer would support Schneiderman’s bid to become Governor – all in the context of Schneiderman’s active pursuit of lawsuits against the fossil fuel industry, which Steyer detests.

The message was fairly clear: you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours. Steyer’s “itch,” however, was and is a desire to persecute an industry that he finds ideologically odious. Schneiderman, then, was arguably offering to engage in prosecutorial misconduct in exchange for campaign cash.

The fact that Steyer is also heavily invested in the fossil fuel industry’s “alternative energy” competitors just makes the whole scenario that much more repellent. And this is the man, lest we forget, who personally appears in TV and internet ads (on which he has spent upwards of $40 million) claiming that politicians have a “moral responsibility” to impeach President Trump.

Schneiderman, in any case, has since resigned in disgrace after revelations of sexual misconduct involving numerous women. Note to Tom Steyer: politics makes strange bedfellows, yes, but when you’re looking for a good co-conspirator, try to use a little common sense!

Unfortunately, Mike Bloomberg’s role in the tragicomedy of billionaire-backed lawsuits against the energy industry is equally troubling. Bloomberg has famously invested millions in a campaign to deprive Americans of their Second Amendment rights, but his zeal to deprive you of your gasoline-powered automobile, or to shut down the coal- or natural gas-fired power plant that lights your home, is no less fervent.

Bloomberg, like Steyer, is also invested in organizations that stand to gain from fossil fuel producers’ hoped-for demise.

Thanks to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, we now know that Bloomberg is pumping money into a fund that supports the hiring of lawyers in the offices of various state Attorneys General. These lawyers are charged with protecting the planet from — you guessed it — the depredations of the fossil fuel industry, among other villains.

Can Democrat Attorneys General refuse these generous donations? Of course, but why would they, when Bloomberg is essentially underwriting their political prosecution of, as they see it, a rogue industry, and when the plaudits they will earn from environmental activists will help re-elect them?

The lesson is simple, and it is one that no American should find surprising at this stage: money talks, and it talks no less loudly on the Left. What makes the efforts of men like Steyer and Bloomberg so frightening, though, is that they are willing to end-run the democratic process.

For them, elections are sideshows. It is not necessarily the voters they wish to persuade to support their radical schemes — it is the courts. The assumption seems to be that, if the American people aren’t on board with gutting their own economy, not to mention their Constitution, then perhaps a gaggle of high-priced lawyers can accomplish what the voters never could.

For the sake of our democracy, it’s imperative that we prove them wrong.

Dr. Nicholas L. Waddy is an Associate Professor of History at SUNY Alfred and blogs here. He appears weekly on the Newsmaker program on WLEA 1480.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

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