Megadonor Tom Steyer Won’t Give to Democratic Groups Because of the Shutdown Deal

January 25, 2018, 4:05 PM UTC

Hedge fund manager and Democratic billionaire mega-donor Tom Steyer said Wednesday that he will refrain from donating to national Democratic Party committees following the vote in Congress to re-open the government before reaching an immigration deal.

I don’t have a litmus test on any one thing, but I do have a litmus test for elected officials standing on principle and doing the right thing, looked at holistically. And I want to say that after the DACA vote I have decided not to give anything to the national party committees,” Steyer said in an interview with Fortune Wednesday.

When asked if this included the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, (DSCC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), he confirmed it applied to all three. He said he had not discussed this decision with the committees.

The DSCC and DCCC did not immediately respond to request for comment. The DNC said in a statement that it welcomes the work of Steyer’s organization, NextGen America.

“The more money flowing toward efforts to elect Democratic candidates the better,” said DNC spokesman Michael Tyler.”We saw last fall in Virginia — where NextGen, among many other emerging progressive groups, deployed dozens of organizers across the state — how successful we can be when we’re united in our efforts to elect Democrats up and down the ballot.”

Steyer has donated over $400,000 to these three committees since 2015, according to records from the Federal Election Commission; his last donation was in September of 2017, when he gave $33,900 to the DSCC, the maximum amount an individual can contribute to that committee for that calendar year. Steyer also contributed contributed that amount to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last year. But this number is relatively minimal, when compared to the millions he has spent over the past few months on television ads advocating for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. After wide speculation that he might run for office, he announced earlier this month that he was investing $30 million to spur voter registration among young Americans for the midterm elections, and would double down on his impeachment campaign.

“At this point what we’ve seen from the party committees is we are at a point where we can definitely stand up for what we think is right more directly by the programs that we’re doing,” he explained. “I know that people focus on these FEC controlled election contributions but overwhelmingly, what we do is go directly to the American people.”

But Steyer’s decision was also a reflection of the dissatisfaction that has emerged from some on the left following the majority of the Democrats’ decision to vote on a resolution that would fund the government through November 8 while Congress continued to hash out details of immigration reform. The government partially shut down last weekend after all but 5 of the 49 Democrats in the Senate opposed a resolution to fund the government, because the bill did not include a solution regarding the recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program. On Monday, Democrats in both chambers voted to pass a similar bill — which Trump signed into law — sparking outrage from both their colleagues and outside groups who opposed the measure that the party had succumbed to political pressure.

“If you made a commitment to the Dreamers and you care about 800,000 young people who are legal residents of the United States in a program that the president has promised twice we should continue then we should be standing up for them,” Steyer said when asked about the vote.

Steyer declined to say if he would withhold funding from lawmakers who voted to reopen the government, continually insisting there was not one factor that would influence his decision.

“In politics when you are making a decision it’s never one point , it’s always multiple considerations but the fact of the matter is we’re looking for people who are going to stand up for what’s right,” he said. “It’s a broader thing than any one stance.”

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the amount that Tom Steyer donated to the DSCC in September of 2017. It was $33,900, not $339,000.