Steyer has been a funding force in Democratic politics in recent years, bankrolling candidates and organizations that promote a liberal agenda. He jumped into the race in July after funding an effort to pressure Congress into impeaching Trump.
Yale University, B.A., 1979; Stanford Business School, MBA, 1983
June 27, 1957
Samuel, Charles, Evelyn and Henry
Founder, Farallon Capital Management, 1986-2012; Partner, Hellman and Friedman, 1985-1986; Associate, Goldman Sachs, 1983-1985; Financial analyst, Morgan Stanley, 1979-1981
What Tom Steyer said to extricate himself from the world's most uncomfortable situation
Updated 2:51 PM ET, Thu Jan 16, 2020
Tom Steyer has struggled for months for relevance in the 2020 presidential race. On Tuesday night he got it, albeit very briefly -- and not at all the way he probably envisioned. Here's how it happened: Steyer, a wealthy businessman who is self-funding his bid for the Democratic nomination, had just finished up debating with five of his rivals. What better way to cap the night than say your goodbyes to your new friends, right? Mind as well stroll over to Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders having a little chat- OH WAIT OH MY GOD NO. If you've been on another planet for the last 48 hours, I'm talking about this: As Sanders and Warren each accused the other of calling them a liar, there's good ole Tom Steyer just kind of standing there. Awkwardly. Actually, "awkwardly" doesn't capture it. What does capture it? Maybe this: You go out to dinner with a married couple you're friends with. As you walk up to the table, they are just finishing up a VERY heated argument. Cue loud chair scraping as you sit down and say: "I don't want to get in the middle. I just want to say hi, Bernie." Oh wait. That's actually exactly what Steyer said in an attempt to extricate himself from the world's most uncomfortable situation. Which honestly isn't all that bad given that he was coming up with it on the fly and had to be flustered by the whole you're-a-liar-no-you're-the-liar thing he was witnessing play out between Sanders and Warren. Sanders, because he is Sanders and also because he was likely somewhat flustered by the Warren confrontation, offered Steyer this: "Yeah, good, OK." Oomph. And because -- as I mentioned -- Steyer is desperately seeking relevance, he almost immediately looked to capitalize on being a witness to a major moment in the race. "Just want to say hi, America," tweeted Steyer on Wednesday night. Which is funny! Unfortunately for Steyer, accidentally walking into a big fight between two major contenders is both a) a metaphor for his candidacy to date and b) the one thing history may remember when the words "Tom Steyer's presidential campaign" are uttered in future decades. Steyer has been kicking around Democratic politics for several years now -- using his personal wealth to fund campaigns to draw public attention to the urgent threat posed by climate change and, more recently, to the need to impeach President Donald Trump. In this presidential race, Steyer's spending -- more than $142 million on TV and digital ads to date, according to CNN's David Wright -- has given him a foothold(ish) in early voting states like South Carolina and Nevada. Which has allowed him to qualify for several more recent presidential debates even as some of his better-known opponents have failed to make the stage. But as was apparent during the actual debate on Tuesday night, Steyer simply doesn't belong on the stage with the top tier candidates. He looked deeply out of his depth on foreign policy -- he said he was qualified to lead on that issue because he had traveled extensively internationally -- and felt, throughout, like an afterthought. So, yeah. Well, look on the bright side: We'll always have "I don't want to get in the middle. I just want to say hi."
Steyer, a longtime Democratic donor, established himself as a leading force on climate change with a $100 million campaign in the 2014 midterm elections through the advocacy group NextGen Climate, which was positioned as a foil to the oil and gas industry – specifically to the donor network established by billionaire conservative brothers Charles and David Koch. As a presidential candidate, Steyer says he would declare a national emergency on his first day in office over the climate crisis and use executive action to achieve his goals, including a clean-energy system with net-zero “global warming pollution” by 2045. Steyer would also stop the issuance of new leases for mining and drilling and would wind down existing production on federal land and offshore. Like other candidates, Steyer ties his climate plans to job creation, promising 1 million jobs. He calls for $2 trillion in federal funding over 10 years for infrastructure, which includes transportation as well as “water, operational systems, the energy grid, farms and rural development, building retrofits, maintenance, affordable housing, universal broadband, and more.” He also calls for issuing $250 billion in “climate bonds” over 10 years and investing $50 billion in programs to support miners and other “fossil fuel workers.” Steyer says he would keep the US in the Paris climate agreement, a landmark 2015 deal on global warming targets that Trump has pledged to abandon, as well as other international alliances and United Nations agreements aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change. More on Steyer’s climate crisis policy
Steyer’s initial focus was his $2 trillion energy infrastructure investment plan, which he says would in turn unleash “trillions” more in private capital investment. He would also create what he calls “Green New Deal investment zones.” In October 2019, he released a new economic agenda aimed at “ensuring that economic power rests with the American people, not big corporations.” To address what Steyer calls the “undue influence” of corporate power on the US economy, his plan calls for a $15 minimum wage, along with congressional term limits and the overturning of Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court decision that eased restrictions on corporate campaign spending. Steyer says he would repeal the Trump tax cuts and install a 1% wealth tax on those whose net worth is above $32 million. But he said he favors regulation over moving to greater government control over parts of the economy. “I’m a progressive and a capitalist, but unchecked capitalism produces market failures and economic inequities,” Steyer said in a news release outlining the plan. “The people must be in charge of our economy — but socialism isn’t the answer.” Steyer has declared a right to a living wage as part of his “5 Rights” platform. He pledges in his climate plan to reward companies that follow fair labor practices and hire union workers. More on Steyer’s economic policy
Steyer calls on his website for providing “free, quality, public education” from preschool through college “and on to skills training.” More on Steyer’s education policy
After the 2018 Parkland, Florida, school shooting, Steyer pledged $1 million for a voter registration drive in cooperation with two gun-control advocacy groups – Everytown for Gun Safety and former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords’ organization. At the time, Steyer accused the Republican Party and Trump of “putting NRA money ahead of the lives of Americans.” In August 2019, after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Steyer again expressed opposition to the National Rifle Association and called for “mandatory background checks” in an interview with PBS.
Steyer supports universal health care, including it as one of his “5 Rights.” That includes coverage for undocumented immigrants, he said in an interview with CBS in July 2019. He tweeted in late July 2019 that “universal health care must be a right—not a privilege—so everyone has the chance to live a healthy life, and our government needs to act to protect the foundations of our health.” More on Steyer’s health care policy
Federal appeals court rules that both parents in same-sex relationship can be listed on their child's birth certificates
Updated 11:34 PM ET, Sat Jan 18, 2020
Married same-sex couples in Indiana can list both parents on their children's birth certificates, a federal court ruled Friday. The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals issued its ruling Friday, 32 months after it first heard the case. The appeals court upheld a lower court's ruling that by refusing to list both same-sex spouses as parents on birth certificates, Indiana was denying them one of "the constellation of benefits that the States have linked to marriage" under the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling. "Our clients are delighted," said Karen Celestino-Horseman, one of the lawyers for the same-sex couples. "This takes a lot of weight off their shoulders. They've been living as families and wondering if this was going to tear them apart." Under Indiana's law, opposite-sex spouses who used artificial insemination could still record a woman's husband as a child's father. However, same-sex couples were banned from doing the same. That meant the nonbiological mother would then have to adopt what, according to Indiana, was her wife's out of wedlock child. When contacted by CNN, the Indiana attorney general's office said it was unavailable for comment. A lower court had ruled earlier in favor of the same-sex couples in the case. However, the parents were still in limbo as to whether the court of appeals would uphold that decision, or whether one wife would have to go through what one lawyer described as the lengthy and expensive process of adopting her non-biological children. Parents in death, but not in life The decision brought relief and a sense of closure to plaintiffs Crystal and Noell Allen. After 16 years of being partners and two of marriage, Crystal became pregnant with twins in 2015 using a sperm donor. Along with their 5-year-old daughter, the Allens were excited at welcoming their new twins. But after complications in the womb, Crystal gave birth to Ashton and Alivea at 19 weeks. They passed away soon after birth. While grieving the loss of their children, the hospital said they could not list Noell as a parent on their birth certificates. However, she could be listed as a parent on her babies' death certificates. "When we found out, it was like salt in a fresh wound," Crystal said. "It was OK for us to be associated with their deaths, but not their births. It resonated in a strange way with me about how our government officials felt about us and our families." The birth certificate for the twins now lists both parents. The Allens had found it painful to relive their children's deaths in court. They found it difficult to explain their passing to their daughter, Elon, who had been 5 years old at the time. Now 10, Crystal says Elon thought her siblings were rejoicing after the decision. "I was explaining to her yesterday what the case was about and what it meant, and she said she bets that the twins are doing their happy dance," Crystal said. Legal uncertainty The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals deliberated the case for more than two and a half years -- one of the longest deliberations for that court, according to Celestino-Horseman. While the case waited in front of the judges, federal courts around the country ruled in favor of same-sex couples in similar birth certificate cases. In 2017, the Supreme Court confirmed that an Arkansas law requiring husbands to be listed on birth certificates applied to same-sex couples. While Friday's ruling provided some stability on the issue, Indiana's attorney general could still appeal the case to the Supreme Court. The court's ruling expressly left open the thorny question of a child's legal parentage when it came to same-sex male couples. Because all the plaintiffs were women, the ruling focused on female couples using sperm donors. When the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 to make same-sex marriage legal across the United States, it opened up a series of legal contests. States must now rule on retirement and social security benefits for couples who were only recently allowed to marry, among other issues. "It is my hope and prayer that we can move forward with this," Crystal Allen said. "It is my hope that it is over."