Some people have a crazy notion that billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer is trying to buy his way into the White House.
Now they’re armed with damning evidence to support the suggestion.
Several Iowa politicians told The Associated Press that Steyer’s point man in the Hawkeye State, former state House speaker Pat Murphy, is shopping for endorsements and he’s willing to pay top dollar.
State Rep. Karin Derry said Murphy didn’t mention a specific amount, but the message was clear.
“It was presented more as, he has provided financial support to other downballot candidates who’ve endorsed him, and could do the same for you,” said Derry, one of several Iowa politicians who pointed to Murphy.
Another, former state senator Tom Courtney, didn’t name Murphy, but discussed his experience with an unnamed Steyer aide. Courtney is running to regain his old senate seat representing southeastern Iowa, the AP reports.
“Tom, I know you’re running for Senate. I’m working for Tom Steyer,” Courtney said, recalling what the aide told him. “Now you know how this works. … He said, ‘you help them, and they’ll help you.’”
“I said, ‘it wouldn’t matter if you’re talking monetary, there’s no amount,’” the lawmaker said. “I don’t do that sort of thing.”
Steyer, best known politically for his ad campaign pushing for President Trump’s impeachment, is a California Democrat billionaire hedge fund manager who spends millions on liberal politicians and causes every year, from former president Obama’s campaigns, to state ballot proposals, to lawyers for illegal immigrants, to the more than $10 million he spent on impeach Trump television ads.
Steyer has so far spent well over $47 million of his own money on ads and other messaging through the first three months of his self-funded presidential campaign, the AP reports.
Campaign finance experts told the news service it’s not illegal for candidates to pay for endorsements, if they list the transaction on their campaign finance disclosures.
“It’s legal if you disclose a payment for endorsement on your campaign finance report,” FEC attorney turned watchdog Adav Noti told the AP. “It would be unlawful if you don’t disclose it, or you disclose it but try to hide who the recipient is, or try to hide what that purpose was.”
Regardless, Courtney said the whole ordeal “left a bad taste in my mouth.”
Steyer’s people contend Murphy went rogue and wasn’t authorized to make endorsement offers, while Murphy told the news service the situation stems from “miscommunication.”
“Our campaign policy is clear that we will not engage in this kind of activity, and anyone who does is not speaking for the campaign or does not know our policy,” Steyer press secretary Alberto Lammers said.
Revelations about the billioniare’s Iowa quid pro quos followed just days after another Steyer staffer was busted for shady shenanigans in another state.
Dwane Sims, Steyer’s deputy South Carolina state director, resigned in shame late Monday after logging into volunteer data from Senator Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign. Sims gained access to campaigns’ proprietary data through his prior position as a voter file manager for the state Democratic Party, The Post and Courier reports.
“We apologize to the South Carolina Democratic Party and the DNC,” Steyer campaign manager Heather Hargreaves said of the stolen data. “Tom Steyer and the Steyer campaign extend our deepest apology to Senator Kamala Harris and her campaign.”
Party officials caught Sims’ attempt to download Harris’ data, which contained thousands of voter contacts, and forced him to scrub his computer to ensure it wasn’t used, according to the news site.