Now that Obama’s out of office, the War on Coal needs a new boogeyman, and Tom Steyer fits the bill. Last week saw the launch of a new website attacking Tom Steyer, reported the Free Beacon and Daily Caller.
Attempting to coin a new name for struggling coal communities, the site is called Steyerville.com. The claim is that Steyer’s recent climate change philanthropy is responsible for the decades-long economic decline of coal communities.
The website makes no attempt to prove anything deeper than correlation between Steyer’s spending and unemployment rates in rural communities. In reality, the mechanization of coal mining has been driving industry unemployment for decades. Even the right-wing, free-market loving, climate change-denying, Reason Magazine acknowledges that competition from natural gas and renewables is what killed coal, not climate change activists.
Who is behind the Steyerville campaign? An organization called Power the Future, currently a one-man operation run by Daniel Turner.
The FAQ claims that Power the Future is “not a lobbying shop,” but more like a communications group that wants to “call out facts about the energy industry.” Power the Future claims not to be funded by corporations, but the corporate ties are strong. Turner previously worked for two different Koch groups--the Koch Institute and the youth-targeted Generation Opportunity. There’s no mention of this on the website, but by targeting environmentalists Turner is still serving Koch interests.
Despite declaring that it does not lobby, Power the Future’s About page says that its non-profit designation is a 501c4. This tax designation means a lot. There are two main types of nonprofit organizations, 501c3 and 501c4. Organizations with c3 status are charities and are allowed to do minimal lobbying (typically less than 10 percent of its budget.) C4s, on the other hand, can do unlimited lobbying on issues and legislation relevant to their social welfare missions.
Despite claiming not to be a lobby shop, Turner created a front designed to do unlimited lobbying.
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