Spending millions on his own campaign, is liberal billionaire Tom Steyer drawing into question his goal of getting money out of politics?
Steyer spent a whopping $47 million “during the first three months of his presidential bid” (84 days), which “places him on track to join the biggest self-funding political candidates in American history,” The Los Angeles Times reported October 16. The only caveat to Steyer’s spending spree is that the liberal billionaire and “eco-warrior” has “remained mired in the low single digits in the polls in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.”
Not only that, but Steyer “spent more money than he raised in recent months, and has significantly less in the bank than his top rivals,” The Times said.
The Times broke down Steyer’s efforts to essentially buy his spot on Tuesday’s Democratic debate stage:
“Much of Steyer’s spending was devoted to earning him a place on Tuesday night’s debate stage, including $15.6 million on media ad buys, $14.8 million on digital ads and $3.7 million on direct mail, according to the disclosure forms. Hundreds of thousands of dollars more were spent on production costs. Steyer’s spending led several of his rivals to accuse him of trying to buy a spot on the debate stage.”
The Times also noted that if Steyer continues at the current pace of spending, he could soon “easily break” the funding records set by former 1992 presidential candidate Ross Perot and 2000 presidential candidate Steve Forbes, who “spent the equivalent of a little over $110 million in today’s dollars.”
He has far surpassed the election spending of any of his fellow opponents in the 2020 Democratic candidate field, The Times indicated in their graph outlining current election spending totals by Democratic Party presidential primary candidates.
And this pattern of buying debate stage spots has been an ongoing trend for Steyer.
Steyer spent millions earlier this year to buy his spot on the Sept. 12 debate stage by purchasing ads and buying donor information from two activist organizations he founded: NextGen America and Need to Impeach. This gave Steyer access to a treasure trove of information on people he used to his advantage to reach the September debate’s 130,000 donor threshold.
Spending heavily in an electoral cycle also isn’t a new development for the liberal mega-donor. Steyer is already listed as Open Secrets top donor to outside spending groups for the 2020 cycle. He has currently contributed $21,063,557 exclusively to his organizations Need to Impeach and NextGen Climate Action, dwarfing the spending of the top eight conservative contributors. He also dwarfed the spending of runners-up liberal mega-donors George Soros and Donald Sussman combined. They spent $6,285,000 and $6,050,000 respectively.
Steyer may just be money in politics personified.