Dem mega-donor Steyer caught up in Oregon governor scandal

Democratic mega donor Tom Steyer financed at least one of the green groups who made payments to former Governor John Kitzhaber's fiancee, Cylvia Hayes while she was an "unofficial" advisor in the governor's office. The payments were made at the same time that the state was evaluating green fuel standards.

The Washington Free Beacon is also reporting that several Steyer associates were involved in the scheme.

An executive at one of Steyer’s nonprofit groups and a political vendor who has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the hedge fund manager’s political operations helped run the group, which is accused of influencing state energy policy through undisclosed payments to Oregon’s first lady.

The controversy centers on Gov. John Kitzhaber’s fiancée, Cylvia Hayes. She was paid $118,000 by the Clean Economy Development Center (CEDC) to advocate for environmentalist policies in Oregon.

Hayes never disclosed those payments, despite acting as an informal adviser to the governor as he pushed a low-carbon fuel standard for the state.

Dan Carol, then a strategic adviser to CEDC, helped Hayes land the position. He was given a $165,000-per-year job in the Kitzhaber administration.

Kitzhaber is expected to resign today under intense scrutiny over the scandal. The scandal could extend beyond Oregon given Steyer’s involvement. Steyer has donated millions to a group that helped finance Hayes’ position, which could ensnare one of the Democratic Party’s most prominent fundraisers in the 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. [correction: Jeffrey King, executive director of the Clean Economy Development Center writes to us that Kate Gordon] was never on its board]

Another director of the group, according to the website, was Mike Casey. [correction: Jeffrey King, executive director of the Clean Economy Development Center writes to us that Mike Casey was never on its board]  Casey runs a media and public relations firm called Tigercomm that does polling and advertising work for Steyer’s Super PAC, NextGen Climate Action.

The interlocking web of activists, donors, and Democratic politics is difficult to unravel. Call it the Environmental Political Complex; a web of seamless connectivity that promotes incestuous relationships among advisors to green groups, political activists, governments, and partisan Democratic donors. They sit on each other's boards and foundations, they work in offices of friendly politicians, they're employed by various state governments, they lobby state and federal government, and they develop political strategies  to advance their causes. And it's all financed by a select group of donors.

The right really has nothing like it, which puts it at a disadvantage. But this scandal, which has brought down the governor of Oregon, threatens to unravel some of the threads that bind these networks together. The last thing these people want is a light being shown on their activities. And Mr. Steyer, who threatened to primary Democrats who didn't agree with his extreme views on climate changes right smack dab in the middle of it.

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