As more billionaires leave shadowy donor networks for the spotlight of the political arena, hedge fund manager Tom Steyer is transforming into a darling of the progressive movement.
In a statement issued to media outlets on Tuesday, Steyer rebuked the House Intelligence Committee’s exoneration of President Donald Trump as a “blatantly partisan decision.”
“The House Intelligence Committee’s blatantly partisan decision to shut down their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election [is] not only a disgrace, but shows that the GOP is willing to fold to Donald Trump’s demands,” wrote Steyer on Tuesday. “Congressional Republicans have shown time and again that they have no interest in holding this president accountable, but by refusing to do their constitutional duty, they are now leaving our national security at extreme risk.”
Steyer’s remarks signal raw political ambition—it is even speculated the billionaire may be jockeying for Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) seat.
After funneling more than $160 million into Democratic politics through his NextGen America Super PAC over the last two election cycles, the progressive billionaire now wants to turn grassroots #resistance into political capital. Earlier this year, he pledged $30 million through his PAC ahead of the 2018 midterms, alongside a $20 million impeachment campaign against Trump.
“As Robert Mueller’s investigation continues to uncover the connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, the American people will recall the members of the Republican Party who acted as accomplices to cover it up,” warned Steyer.
The American people might also recall other billionaires employing similar tactics as Steyer.
Billionaire Charles Koch published an op-ed for The Washington Post last week imploring corporate leaders to reject the White House’s approval of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Trump himself used his wealth and connections to mount a successful presidential bid.
“Whilst this might seem relatively new in contemporary U.S. domestic politics, you only have to open the history books on ancient Rome,” Norah Lawlor, founder of the high-end public relations firm Lawlor Media Group, told Observer. “Caesar and his successors used their wealth, sought to mobilize the masses—whether through literally providing bread or laying on extravagant entertainments in the Colleseum.”
Citing changes in media and the political process as avenues “for the political elite to control the public presentation and issues agenda,” Lawlor added that “those with the resources can buy their own newspaper to propound their views or go to the grassroots and open a website.”
“The ascendancy of Donald Trump to the presidency is the clearest case which may well have not unfolded with the success it did were communications channels managed as they were only a couple of decades ago,” he explained.
Steyer could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.