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Who Is Tom Steyer: The Important Work of Powerline’s John Hinderaker

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Since I take the First Amendment seriously, I don’t begrudge any person of vast wealth the right to spend every last penny of it on political causes.

But neither do I believe that just because someone declares himself to be a do-gooder that he is in fact intent on doing good as opposed to, say, making even more money. Nor do “conversion stories” play well with me. Once a capitalist, folks ought not to be allowed to attack free markets without media comment on their change of heart.

Billionaire Tom Steyer appears to have secured the fealty of the entire Democratic Party on the Keystone XL pipeline, from the president through the lowest ranking member of Congress, and that is not the sort of “corruption” that allows campaign finance reform laws their last few breaths of life under the gaze of this Supreme Court. The sort of corruption the proponents of campaign finance have to point to is “quid pro quo” Abscam bribes.

Now Steyer runs a giant “influence operation,” but it is perfectly legal and perfectly in the open. But is is poorly understood and that is where the MSM is falling down. “I’m not the Koch brothers” Steyer proclaims, but of course he is: He’s a wealthy American spending his money on various candidates and causes for reasons we can only dimly if ever suspect. The Kochs appear genuinely interested in a world view anchored in free people and free markets. Steyer seems genuinely motivated by a fear of global warming. The latter motivation is as absurd to me as the former makes obvious sense based on history. But the one thing that is certain is that the Kochs and Steyers are doing exactly the same thing: using money to influence politics. And, to repeat, that is fine. That’s the First Amendment at work. See Putin’s Russia, the mullah’s Iran, the PRC or its client North Korea for states wherein such speech is not permitted.

Where our MSM fails, however, is in shining a light on Steyer and the Kochs equally. They are fooled by Steyer’s proclamations of “good guy” status and have given him a free ride on the origins of his wealth, or at least they are silent on that point.

John Hinderaker isn’t, however, and everyone should read John’s “The Epic Hypocrisy of Tom Steyer.” This is the sort of reporting the Wall Street Journal, TheNew York Times, and The Washington Post should be doing, but the Powerline commitment to deep digging is a wonderful thing and yields this sort of gold.

Turns out that Mr. Steyer has made a lot of money –a lot of money– from investing in coal. Good for him. Coal is one of those things that greatly improve the circumstances of billions of people around the world by allowing them to live more comfortably and longer lives. It is a precious natural resource, and the United States is the Saudi Arabia of coal, which is a good thing as well. Like oil and natural gas, coal is freedom, because energy is freedom. Thumbs up to coal billionaires.

But shouldn’t the MSM who are covering Mr. Steyer’s endless campaign against GOP candidates and the Keystone XL pipeline at least note for their readers the source of some of his vast fortune?

Since they won’t do their job, I hope you will help get out the word by linking to John’s piece and tweeting it pout again and again. Tom Mr. Coal” Steyer deserves as much attention as airtime he purchases.

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    Hugh Hewitt
  • Hugh Hewitt is a lawyer, law professor, and broadcast journalist. A proficient blogger, Hugh Hewitt has one of the most visited political blogs in the U.S.

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