This week, we’ve shown you how former Gregoire administration chief of staff Jay Manning received private funding to assist the Inslee administration and influence its environmental policies. We also had a laugh about Manning’s concerns about the new administration getting “mired in the daily realities of governing,” and showed you the requests Inslee administration officials made of private foundations to fund political activities while at the Skamania III conference last fall.
Here’s another gem for you. In the weeks leading up to the Skamania III conference in Sept. 2013, officials from Washington, Oregon, California and British Columbia were working to finalize the conference agenda and the “workplans” they would be presenting to the private foundations and political groups that were attending. That’s when Dan Carol from Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber’s office had a truly sycophantic idea.
Speaking of the climate goals section of the conference workplans, Carol suggested adding some language that would appeal to environmental radical and California billionaire Tom Steyer:
“One idea I would suggest we consider adding to the additional funding opportunities section…
‘Funding a jurisdictional or a regional report on the projected costs and the risks of inaction on climate.’
Something like this might help fertilize the soil in 2014, if you will, for many of the bigger actions planned in 2015 and beyond? I know that Steyer’s Center for Next Generation has major interest in this kind of data and messaging.”
Let that sink in. This e-mail string is made up entirely of taxpayer-funded public servants, and here they are discussing the best way to suck up to a billionaire who has pledged to spend $100 million on politics this year. No doubt they want the “soil in 2014, if you will” well “fertilized” with Steyer’s money.
Even though the Skamania III conference was a blatantly political affair, even the other planners on the e-mail string seemed to realize that Carol’s suggestion was a step too far, even by their low standards. Everybody else knew better than to respond to Carol’s idea in writing.
Not that we should be surprised Carol floated the idea. With Steyer planning to spend $100 million this year, not just on federal races but on state legislative races (as he did here last year in the special state Senate election in the 26th District), Democrats across the country are trying to get their hands on some of that cash. Steyer’s own strategist (formerly Bill Clinton’s strategist) Chris Lehane even sounded giddy at the prospect of using climate arguments as a “wedge issue” (his words) in elections. Divide and conquer!
And why wouldn’t the government officials who planned the Skamania III conference try to suck up to Steyer, given the fact that those above them do it even more blatantly? Gov. Jay Inslee hosted Steyer at the governor’s mansion just last week:
On Thursday, Steyer and Inslee had an hour-long discussion over a salmon lunch at the governor’s mansion in Olympia, said David Postman, Inslee’s communications director. The lunch was an unofficial event and was not publicized, but Postman provided details after an inquiry from The Seattle Times.
Postman described the Inslee-Steyer discussion as “wide-ranging” on climate issues, with most of the time spent on “pretty technical and wonky” aspects of climate policy. They also discussed “the political challenges inherent in trying to address carbon pollution,” he said.
Asked whether the two talked about the 2014 elections and Steyer’s possible role here, Postman said “the governor has said before to him — he knows the challenges the governor faces in trying to get something done here.” But he said there was no specific political request or plan discussed.