Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer led the Farallon funding Management hedge money in mountain Francisco when it invested in charcoal mining and private prisons.

You are watching: How did tom steyer get his wealth?

When Tom Steyer was to run a hedge money in 2000, he created a letter telling some affluent investors your money would soon circulation through an offshore agency that would shield your gains from U.S. Taxes.

It was regimen in finance, however could prove toxicity in politics.

Now that the san Francisco billionaire has actually joined the crowd of Democrats to run for president, lot of what the did to construct his an individual fortune, consisting of a stint at Goldman Sachs in the 1980s, might turn turn off voters. His fund’s invest in charcoal mining and also private prisons space two of the greatest hazards.

Part that Steyer’s challenge is timing. Wall surface Street’s reputation is in tatters in the aftermath of the great Recession. Countless Democrats room upset around growing earnings inequality. And billionaires — chairman Trump first among them — are routinely demonized through the party’s left wing.


Steyer is the founder that Farallon capital Management, among America’s largest hedge funds, the high-risk investment pools for huge investors. The left Farallon in 2012 after to run the mountain Francisco firm for 26 years.

He did not cite his suffer there when asked through The time what qualified that to offer as president. He focused instead top top his work-related fighting climate adjust and huge corporations end the last decade.

Attacks by Steyer’s opponents have been mild therefore far, but that will change if the starts gaining support.

“He will have to answer because that his joining in anti-climate-control activities, his partnership to the coal industry, and his partnership to wall surface Street, which young people specifically find abhorrent,” said democratic ad an equipment Hank Sheinkopf, who is unaligned in the presidential race.

“In a politics campaign, there is no previous tense and also there is no future tense. Everything in your life you’ve ever done, believed of and also said is in existing tense.”

In composed responses to questions sent through email, Steyer to express remorse over some of Farallon’s investments.

A crucial liability is Farallon’s 2005 investment of $34 million in correction Corp. That America, which runs migrant detention centers on the U.S.-Mexico border because that U.S. Immigration and also Customs Enforcement. Numerous of the approximately two dozen democracy in the presidential race have denounced revenues from incarceration as immoral.

“I deeply regret the Farallon made that investment, and also I personally bespeak the invest in CCA to it is in sold since it did not accord through my values then or now,” Steyer said.

More troublesome because that Steyer’s public picture is the fund’s background of investing in fossil fuel projects, consisting of a huge coal mine in Australia that generates large quantities of carbon emissions.

The owners overcame protests through environmentalists and won permission to clear 3,700 acre of forest that offered as a koala habitat and also mine 12 million lots of coal per year. Steyer’s movie critics have long seen his past personal stake in charcoal mining as hypocritical.


The hedge fund led by Tom Steyer invested in one Australian charcoal mine that drew protesters in Sydney.
(Saleed cannes / AFP/Getty Images)
“If you running together a liberal, idealistic candidate, together Tom Steyer is, that a serious difficulty when the story you’re trying come tell provides words prefer private prisons and coal,” said Jessica Levinson, a Loyola legislation School professor. “It simply goes directly versus the rainbows and also sunshine and clean air and much better tomorrow narrative he is trying to paint.”

Steyer stated he left Farallon in part because the its holdings in fossil fuels. “I wish I’d do the relocate away indigenous fossil fuel sooner,” he said.

Steyer, 62, muscled his method onto the public phase by coming to be one that the democratic Party’s height donors end the critical decade. He placed $74 million right into the 2018 midterm election. That has very closely crafted his political profile roughly his security to encourage liberal causes, many visibly the fight against an international warming and also the journey to impeach chairman Trump.

Some of Steyer’s record has actually yielded poor publicity over the years as he weighed runs for chosen office in California. However his entry right into the presidential gyeongju on Tuesday and also his vow to spend $100 million of his own money ~ above his project will attract fresh scrutiny to the method he offered to amass what Forbes approximates to be his network worth that $1.6 billion.

Steyer, who flourished up on Manhattan’s eastern Side, began his career on wall Street in the late 1970s in ~ Morgan Stanley and worked after that mergers and also acquisitions at Goldman Sachs. In 1986, he opened up Farallon, which prospered from $9 million to $36 exchange rate on his watch, follow to Steyer.

Some democracy say Steyer has actually atoned because that his sins. RL Miller, chairwoman of the state autonomous Party’s ecological caucus, was perplexed by his candidacy and said his money would be far better spent advancing other Democrats.

“I do feel he has actually demonstrated substantial good faith in the yes, the made a lot of money from bad places, yet he’s been very, an extremely open around the fact that he’s turned end a new leaf and is no much longer taking money native those bad places and also is instead spending to carry out good,” fearbut said.

The company records of wealthy candidates are regularly weaponized through rivals. Previous President Obama actors GOP challenger Mitt Romney in 2012 together a cruel plutocrat that made countless dollars on corporate takeovers that put thousands of Americans out of work. Romney co-founded Bain Capital, a exclusive equity firm.


Gray Davis won California’s autonomous primary for branch in 1998 after illustrating rival Al Checchi as a tycoon that pillaged Northwest Airlines, shooting thousands and also forcing thousands more to take pay cuts.

“When this wealthy, self-financing first-time candidates desire to throw your hat in the ring, whether they’re Democrat or Republican, they have to be prepared for a finish drill-down on exactly how it is they make those numerous dollars,” said Garry South, that was Davis’ chef strategist.

As for Steyer, south said, “It’s pretty hard for me to watch a billionaire ~ above the democratic side credibly take on the whole worry of wide range inequality.”

Tom Steyer joins swarm that Democrats running for chairman »

Within hours of Steyer’s announcement, 2 of his adversaries took shots at him.

“I’m a bit worn down of seeing billionaires trying come buy politics power,” Sen. Bernie Sanders of vermont told MSNBC.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren that Massachusetts, that is contending with Sanders for gradual voters, tweeted, “The autonomous primary must not be determined by billionaires, even if it is they’re capital super PACs or capital themselves.”

In an email seeking donations top top Thursday, she said, “We require our candidates to contend to have the ideal ideas — not simply to write themselves the best checks.”


Both Sanders and also Warren, who frequently rail in ~ what they check out as unfair benefits for the super-rich, have decreased to take money from wall Street donors.

Steyer’s wide range will permit him come run much more television ads than many of his enemies can afford. That is already spending $1.4 million on proclaiming over the following two main on national cable news networks and in the an initial four states to hold a major or caucus.

“Maybe that feels he have the right to overwhelm these concerns by safety a lot of money informing his story the method he desires to tell it,” claimed David Axelrod, the architect that Obama’s campaigns. “The difficulty is in the presidential race, the coverage is so intense and also social media together a big piece that that, these type of vulnerabilities get shared virally an extremely readily, and also I’m not certain you can overwhelm that, also with numerous millions of dollars.”

Steyer could also face questions around spending that much money top top himself. “Does all the spending aid in the finish of the work or go it come to be an emblem of excess and also self-aggrandizement?” Axelrod said.

See more: House Passes Bill To Avert Shutdown, Biden Signs Short

Asked around his letter to Farallon investor on the brothers Virgin Islands company that was going to help them stop federal taxes, Steyer walk not attend to his past actions, however called for brand-new taxes top top the wealthy to minimize inequality.

“I use no offshore taxation havens and also pay all U.S. Counting in full,” the said. “I think we should have actually a lot simpler and also fairer taxes code and also get to escape of every loopholes.”