Phil Matier: Tom Steyer’s Big-Dollar Democracy

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— Political campaigns have always had plenty of money being poured into them for individual candidates, certain parties, and various initiatives. But are we seeing a shift in the source of those political contributions?

For the last several years, Republicans and their causes have had the Koch brothers as supporters who have pumped money from their deep pockets, but what about the Democrats? They’ve been at a bit of a loss up until know.

Billionaire and philanthropist Tom Steyer, a Californian from Pescadero, is an environmentally-friendly Democrat and activist who came up with a plan. He’s donating $100 million of his money and he gets to decide who gets it and how much of it they get.

The campaign called, NextGen Climate, is aiming to get climate-change conscious, environmentally-friendly politicians elected to office whether they be Democrat or Republican and on a state or federal level.

It should be interesting to see where the money goes since some of the Democrats, especially in the South are pretty close to oil. This could be like the Tea Party of the Democrats.

This is a good demonstration of the shift in political contributions we’ve seen on both sides and how they’re coming from less people or in cases like this, from wealthy individuals.

People are willing to drop millions of dollars on causes, initiatives or in cases like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Meg Whitman, their own candidacy. It also takes away some of the political party’s power. It’s not going through the likes of Nancy Pelosi, it’s going straight into these independent committees and independent movements. Where’s the checks and balances?

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