PHOENIX — California billionaire Tom Steyer this week compared his political work to the civil rights work of Martin Luther King, Jr., and bragged about the “fantastic return” on his political investments.
Steyer, who is funding a campaign to impeach President Donald Trump, appeared on POLITICO’s “Off Message” podcast Tuesday. The Democratic billionaire spoke with host Isaac Dovere about the controversial origins of his wealth and the goals of his political operation.
Asked why other Democratic donors haven’t embraced his impeachment efforts, Steyer responded that may Democrats have benefited from Republican policies.
“There are lots of people who are quite happy with the way things are,” he said. “And there are lots of people who are Democrats and liberal-leaning who love to have their taxes reduced.”
Steyer said that it is “impossible to answer” whether Democrats will actually move forward with impeaching the president if the party retakes the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2018 but admitted that, if personally given the power, he would do so tomorrow.
“We have a president who is lawless and reckless and is threatening our democracy and making us unsafe, and we need to get rid of him.”
The host asked Steyer about House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s contention that talking about impeachment is a “gift” to Republicans during the mid-term elections. The Democratic mega-donor responded that impeaching him is “upsetting the status quo” and compared his efforts to those of civil rights-era leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Any time in American history that there has been an attempt to upset the status quo, there have been people within the status quo, within the establishment, saying, ‘It may be true. It may be something we should deal with. It may be important. But not now,’” Steyer continued. “So, if you look at the civil rights movement, I mean the pushback was not, ‘You’re not telling the truth.’ The pushback was, ‘We’re dealing with it in time.’ You know, ‘Stand down so we can deal with it in time.’”
The California billionaire also is funding a controversial ballot proposal in Arizona that, if implemented, would force the state’s utilities to obtain half of their energy from renewable sources by the year 2030.
Protesters lined the streets of Tucson last week when Steyer landed in southern Arizona to talk about it at an event hosted by the Pima County Democratic Party. The group behind his proposal is facing several controversies, including serious allegations from former employees who claim that they were subject to illegal signature-gathering quotas.
Critics contend that the renewable mandate would significantly increase families’ monthly electricity bills. They have also questioned whether the billionaire would profit from such a mandate.
“When you say that there’s no return on my investment, of course I think that’s wrong,” Steyer said on Tuesday’s podcast. “Because I think there’s a fantastic return on my investment.”