Right-Wing Media Falsely Drag Steyer Into Oregon Gov. Scandal

Conservative media outlets are broadly attacking clean energy and the environmental movement by falsely alleging that prominent environmental philanthropist Tom Steyer has “deep ties” to the recent scandal involving Cylvia Hayes, the fiancée of former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber who failed to publicly disclose that she was being paid by a clean energy group while also advising Kitzhaber on clean energy issues. In reality, there is no evidence that Steyer funded Hayes, or that Steyer has any other connection to the scandal.

UPDATE: On February 19, the Energy Foundation released a statement confirming that it is “fiction” to claim “Tom Steyer funded the work of Cylvia Hayes through the Energy Foundation.”  The Energy Foundation added: “The TomKat Charitable Trust did not earmark its donations to any specific Energy Foundation project. The Trust had no input on the Energy Foundation's grant decisions.”

Recently Resigned Oregon Gov.'s Fiancee Failed To Disclose Paid Fellowship That Was Partially Funded By The Energy Foundation

The Oregonian: Hayes “Collected $118,000 In Previously Undisclosed Payments” From Clean Energy Group While “Advising The Governor On Clean Energy Policy.” The Oregonian reported that former Governor of Oregon John Kitzhaber's fiancée Cylvia Hayes, who served as the first lady of Oregon, collected “118,000 in previously undisclosed payments” for a fellowship “from an out-of-state clan energy group while she was advising the governor on clean energy policy.” [The Oregonian, 1/29/15]

Hayes' Clean Economy Development Center Fellowship Was Funded By Two Organizations: The Energy Foundation And Rockefeller Brothers Fund. According to the Oregonian, Kitzhaber administration official Dan Carol “said he brought the Energy Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund together to fund the fellowship for Hayes.” [The Oregonian, 2/3/15]

The Energy Foundation Provided $50,000 In 2011 And $25,000 In 2012 To Support Hayes' Fellowship. The Oregonian reported: “Energy Foundation, a large San Francisco-based nonprofit organization that promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy, confirmed it footed some of the bills for Hayes' fellowship. Spokeswoman Jenny Coyle told The Oregonian/Oregonlive by email Wednesday that the foundation provided Clean Economy Development Center $50,000 in 2011 and another $25,000 in 2012 to support Hayes' work.” [The Oregonian, 1/29/15]

The Energy Foundation Also Paid Hayes $50,000 Directly For Work Done Between May And December 2013. The Oregonian reported: “The [Energy] foundation hired Hayes directly in 2013, paying her $50,000 for work between May and December 2013, according to terms described by the foundation.” [The Oregonian, 1/29/15]

Donations By Steyer-Affiliated Groups Are A Miniscule Part Of Energy Foundation's Total Revenues

Inside Philanthropy: TomKat Charitable Trust Has Contributed “More Than $3 Million” In Grants To The Energy Foundation. According to an Inside Philanthropy profile of the TomKat Charitable Trust established by Steyer and his wife Kat Taylor, “The Energy Foundation is a regular recipient of [TomKat Charitable Trust] funding, winning more than $3 million in grants since the trust started.” [Inside Philanthropy, 6/5/14]

Steyer's Center For The Next Generation Contributed An Additional $174,000 To The Energy Foundation. According to its publicly available IRS form 990s, the Steyer-founded Center for the Next Generation contributed $45,000 to the Energy Foundation's “clean energy and jobs program” in 2011, and $129,000 to the Energy Foundation's “Californians For Clean Energy And Jobs Network (CCEJN)” in 2012. [Center for the Next Generation, 2011 IRS Form 990 and 2012 IRS Form 990, accessed via guidestar.org]

From 2009-2012, Steyer-Related Contributions Likely Accounted For Less Than One Percent Of The Over $391 Million That The Energy Foundation Raised. According to the Energy Foundation's IRS form 990s, its contributions and grants totaled $90,717,384 in 2009; $101,076,051 in 2010; $96,480,421 in 2011; and $103,120,425 in 2012. Donations from Steyer-related groups likely account for less than one percent of the Energy Foundation's cumulative total of $391,394,281 million in grants and contributions. [The Energy Foundation, 2010 IRS Form 9902011 IRS Form 9902012 IRS Form 990, accessed via guidestar.org]

And There Is No Evidence That Steyer's Contributions Went To Funding Hayes' Fellowship. According to its publicly available IRS form 990s, the TomKat Charitable Trust's contributions to the Energy Foundation were for “Support for alternative energy and CA AB-32 work,” “Program priorities,” “general operating support,” and “Phase II of work with [Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs].”  The Center for the Next Generation's 990s listed the purpose of the grants as supporting the “Clean Energy And Jobs Program” and the “Californians For Clean Energy And Jobs Network (CCEJN).” [TomKat Charitable Trust, 2010 IRS Form 990, 2011 IRS Form 990, and 2012 IRS Form 990, accessed via guidestar.org; Center for the Next Generation, 2011 IRS Form 990 and 2012 IRS Form 990, accessed via guidestar.org]

Despite No Evidence That Steyer Funded Hayes' Fellowship Or Engaged In Wrongdoing, Right-Wing Media Link Steyer To Scandal

Washington Free Beacon: Steyer Has “Deep Ties” To Oregon Corruption Scandal. In an article headlined, “Tom Steyer's Deep Ties to Oregon Corruption Scandal,” the Washington Free Beacon referred to Steyer as “arguably the nation's most prominent environmentalist financier,” and claimed that “Steyer steered funds to the group financing Hayes' fellowship.” [Washington Free Beacon, 2/13/15]

Fox Nation: “Tom Steyer Group Linked To Oregon Gov's Corruption Scandal.” A Fox Nation headline promoting the Free Beacon article featured the headline: “Tom Steyer Group Linked To Oregon Gov's Corruption Scandal.” [Fox Nation, 2/13/15]

On WSJ.com, Competitive Enterprise Institute's Ebell Claimed Steyer “Was Funneling Money Through The Energy Foundation To Cylvia Hayes.” In a video posted online by the Wall Street Journal, Competitive Enterprise Institute Center for Energy and Environment Director Myron Ebell cited Steyer while castigating “billionaire donors” who support environmental causes, and baselessly claimed that Steyer “was funneling money” to Hayes via the Energy Foundation:

EBELL: Cylvia Hayes has been a lobbyist and a promoter of clean energy, and she's had a bunch of clients. When she was officially moved into the governor's mansion and declared the first lady of Oregon, she started directing state officials and holding meetings and proposing and pursuing policies while at the same time she was receiving payments from clean energy interests, not just companies but also the Energy Foundation in San Francisco, which really should be called the anti-Energy Foundation. And these are a bunch of billionaire donors that want to make people pay a lot more for their energy, including Tom Steyer. Tom Steyer, the billionaire Democratic donor, was funneling money through the Energy Foundation to Cylvia Hayes.

Newsmax: “Steyer Allegedly At The Heart Of The Mess.” An article on Newsmax.com asserted Kitzhaber and Hayes were involved in “an influence-peddling scandal ... linked to billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer,” and that “Steyer [is] allegedly at the heart of the mess.” [Newsmax.com, 2/13/15]

Wash. Times Editorial Claimed Steyer's Charitable Trust “Is Believed To Have Paid” Hayes For Her Fellowship. In an editorial, The Washington Times referred to the controversy surrounding Kitzhaber and Hayes as a “green scandal,” and alleged: “The Energy Foundation is said to have received more than $3 million from a Steyer philanthropic trust, which is believed to have paid Ms. Hayes a six-figure salary as part of a fellowship program with another group, the Clean Energy Development Center [sic] in Washington.” [The Washington Times, 2/15/13

Wash. Times: Oregon Controversy “Has Created New Questions” For Steyer. A Washington Times news story claimed that “Oregon's controversy has created new questions for billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer,” and later added that the Clean Economy Development Center “received funding for Ms. Hayes' fellowship from another nonprofit, the Energy Foundation, which in 2012 received $200,000 in funding from Mr. Steyer's 'TomKat' Charitable Trust, according to the group's latest 990 tax form.” The article also described the situation as a “new green energy scandal for Democrats.” [The Washington Times, 2/13/15]

Daily Caller: Hayes Was Paid By The Energy Foundation, “Which Is Connected To Lefty Billionaire Tom Steyer.” On February 13, the Daily Caller wrote, “The Energy Foundation had also funded part of Hayes's fellowship at CDEC, and is connected to San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer, a prominent environmentalist who has also been pushing global warming policies in West Coast states.” The next day, a second Daily Caller article similarly stated, “Hayes was paid $118,000 in recent years to lobby for global warming regulations on transportation fuel, according to reports. She received another $40,000 from the San Francisco-based Energy Foundation, which is connected to lefty billionaire Tom Steyer.” [The Daily Caller, 2/13/15; The Daily Caller, 2/14/15]

Wall Street Journal: Hayes Received Contract From Foundation That “Is Partly Funded By Green Billionaire Tom Steyer's Charitable Trust.” In an editorial, the Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote: “The Portland Tribune reported in January that Ms. Hayes had received a $40,000 contract from the Energy Foundation to develop an environmental communications strategy. The Energy Foundation is partly funded by green billionaire Tom Steyer 's charitable trust.” [Wall Street Journal, 2/13/15]

Fox News' Rosen: Hayes Was Paid By “A Nonprofit Funded In Part By Liberal Billionaire And Green Energy Activist Tom Steyer.” On the February 16 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, Chief Washington Correspondent James Rosen similarly linked Steyer to Hayes through the Energy Foundation:

ROSEN: Announcing his resignation last week, Democratic governor John Kitzhaber of Oregon cited his work on green energy as one of his areas of accomplishment.

[clip of Kitzhaber]

KITZHABER: We have also found ways to support our rural communities and to create jobs in our natural resource industries while enhancing the environment.

[end clip]

ROSEN: Yet it was Kitzhaber's engagement to Cylvia Hayes, a green energy activist, that undid him. While serving as an unpaid adviser to the governor on energy issues, Hayes reportedly earned over $200,000 from outside green groups, including the Clean Economy Development Center, whose tax-exempt status the IRS eventually revoked, and the Energy Foundation, a nonprofit funded in part by liberal billionaire and green energy activist Tom Steyer.

Watchdog.org: “Tom Steyer-Connected Energy Foundation ... Helped Fund” Hayes' Fellowship. Watchdog.org wrote: “The Tom Steyer-connected Energy Foundation, based in San Francisco, paid Hayes $40,000 in 2013 to produce a green energy communications strategy. The Foundation also helped fund a portion of Hayes' CEDC fellowship.” [Watchdog.org, 2/11/15]

The Washington Free Beacon Also Baselessly Linked Steyer To The Oregon Scandal Through “Top Advisers”

Free Beacon Claimed  “Top Advisors” To Steyer Helped Run The Group “Accused Of Influencing State Energy Policy Through Undisclosed Payments To Oregon's First Lady.” In its February 13 article, the Free Beacon also alleged that two “top advisers” to Steyer, Kate Gordon and Mike Casey, helped run the Clean Economy Development Center (CEDC), the group “at the center” of the Oregon scandal:

Hayes was reportedly a fellow at the CEDC in 2011 and 2012, but as of late as August of last year, she was still listed on a since-deleted page of its website.

Also listed on that page was Kate Gordon, a member of the CEDC's board. Gordon leads the energy and climate division of Next Generation, an environmental nonprofit group founded by Steyer.

Another director of the group, according to the website, was Mike Casey. Casey runs a media and public relations firm called Tigercomm that does polling and advertising work for Steyer's Super PAC, NextGen Climate Action.

Casey reportedly wrote NextGen's communications strategy for its involvement in elections in Massachusetts and Virginia in 2013. NextGen and another Steyer group, the CE Action Committee, paid Tigercomm $387,000 that year. [Washington Free Beacon, 2/13/15]

But Gordon Didn't Work For Steyer-Affiliated Group Until The Year After Hayes Began Her Paid CEDC Fellowship. According to The Oregonian, Hayes began her paid fellowship with the Clean Economy Development Center in 2011. But as a press release from the Center for the Next Generation reveals, Gordon did not begin working for the Steyer-affiliated group until June 4, 2012. [The Oregonian, 1/29/15; Center for the Next Generation Press Release, 4/3/12]

And Casey Did Not Begin Working For Steyer's PAC Until After Hayes Stopped Receiving Payments From The CEDC. The Oregonian noted that Hayes received payments from the Clean Economy Development Center in 2011 and 2012. But NextGen Climate Action Committee, the PAC that paid Casey for what the Free Beacon described as “polling and advertising work,” was not founded by Steyer until 2013. [The Oregonian, 1/29/15; NextGen Climate Action Committee, “Who We Are,” Accessed 2/18/15]