Billionaire Tom Steyer Jumps into Democratic Presidential Contest

July 9, 2019 by Dan McCue
Businessman Tom Steyer listens during an E-Cigarette Education Awareness Forum at McClatchy High School in Sacramento, Calif., on January 20, 2016. (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

WASHINGTON – Tom Steyer, the billionaire investor and activist who has been advocating for President Donald Trump’s impeachment since shortly after the 2016 election, announced Tuesday he’s joining the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Steyer, 62, announced earlier this year that he had no intention to run for president.  In January he traveled to Iowa to say he wanted to focus entirely on his impeachment campaign, Need to Impeach, rather than on a White House bid.

But he’s since said he’s grown frustrated over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s resistance to impeaching the president. In reality, the two have been locking horns over the issue for ages.

Last year, after Pelosi suggested Steyer’s push to impeach Trump is actually helping Republicans, he pushed back in a Buzzfeed interview, saying “this is a historic time.”

“If you step back for one second and think about this president, the most corrupt president in American history, somebody who is breaking the law on a daily basis,” he added.

Steyer, a longtime Democratic donor, has never run for elected office.

He was raised in New York City and went to the prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy, before going to Yale, and later, Stanford.

He worked at Goldman Sachs in New York before moving to San Francisco to work in private equity and eventually start an investment firm where he made what Forbes magazine has said is a $1.6 billion fortune.

During these years, he also reportedly worked on the presidential campaigns of Walter Mondale, Bill Bradley and John Kerry.

He was also an early supporter of Hillary Clinton and was one of President Barack Obama’s top fundraisers, according to a Vox profile.

Steyer left the financial world to become a political activist full time in 2012.

Since then he’s been an outspoken proponent of renewable energy and climate change legislation, and he’s sought to increase millennials’ participation in politics and elections through NextGen America, an organization he founded in 2013.

Steyer also reportedly spent $120 million in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections on behalf of Democratic candidates.

Steyer said he is resigning his leadership positions in both NextGen America and Need to Impeach to pursue his presidential bid. He also said he has committed more than $50 million through 2020 to the two organizations.

Despite the high profile he’s gained through his Need to Impeach television spots, Steyer made no mention of it in his campaign announcement.

“The other Democratic candidates for President have many great ideas that will absolutely move our country forward, but we won’t be able to get any of those done until we end the hostile corporate takeover of our democracy,” Steyer said.

In his campaign video, Steyer went on to say that in nearly every “major intractable problem, at the back of it, you see a big money interest for whom stopping progress, stopping justice is really important to their bottom line.”

“Americans are deeply disappointed and hurt by the way they’re treated by what they see as the power elite in Washington, D.C., and that goes across party lines and it goes across democracy,” Steyer continued. “We’ve got to take the corporate control out of our politics.”

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