Tom Steyer, a billionaire hedge-fund manager who’s using his fortune to promote environmentalist Democrats in the midterms, has become the largest super political-action committee donor this cycle, according to the New York Times. Steyer has given $55 million to his super PAC, NextGen Climate Action Committee. He surpassed Republican donor Sheldon Adelson’s super PAC giving on Monday night when NextGen reported Steyer gave $15 million last month.
Adelson has donated money to Republicans for decades, while Steyer’s involvement has been much more recent. Adelson became involved in GOP politics in 1992, and reportedly gave $10 million to Newt Gingrich to buoy his 2012 presidential campaign. He later threw his support, and $20 million, behind Mitt Romney.
Steyer was a top donor on John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, but he only became intensely involved in political activism in 2010, when he gave money to defend a state greenhouse-gas-emissions law against a ballot measure intended to gut the regulation. The rapid rise of Steyer’s profile has coincided with the creation of super PACs by two Supreme Court decisions in 2010. Steyer pledged to spend at least $50 million of his own money on this year’s midterm elections, focused on climate change, and has already passed that threshold (he aimed for $50 million in matching donations, too). In August and September alone, Steyer gave a total $30 million.