UPDATE 1-U.S. billionaire to pour $100 mln into climate change fight
By Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON Feb 20 (Reuters) - A California hedge fund investor has pledged $100 million in contributions to pro-environmentalist congressional campaigns, bolstering the battle against climate change.
Billionaire Tom Steyer on Wednesday night hosted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and six other Democratic lawmakers for a fundraiser at his San Francisco home and is planning an ad campaign for candidates who support tough action on climate change.
Steyer, founder of the hedge fund Farallon Capital, plans to spend $50 million of his own money and raise another $50 million from other donors for the November midterm elections.
His aim is to serve as a political counterweight to the conservative billionaire Koch brothers, who have already spent $30 million so far this year on attack ads targeting vulnerable Democratic senators who have supported the healthcare reform law popularly known as Obamacare.
Steyer hosted Reid and some of Congress' most active climate change advocates: Senators Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Tom Udall of New Mexico, and Representative Gary Peters of Michigan, according to a source who attended the dinner and who spoke on condition of anonymity.
They were joined by former Vice President Al Gore, who has spent much of his post-Washington life campaigning for strong climate change legislation, such as a carbon tax.
The 40-person dinner, paid for by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, raised more than $400,000. Democratic donors Mark Buell and Susie Tompkins Buell, co-founder of the Esprit clothing company, and Lorna and Wade Randlett, renewable energy investor and founder of the Bay Area Democrats, co-hosted the dinner of salmon and grass-fed beef from Steyer's ranch. Continued...