Florida Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo was deemed a “pretend environmentalist” by Democrat mega-donor Tom Steyer, despite sponsoring carbon tax legislation and calling for action on climate change.
“I thought that guy was ridiculous. That guy is a pretend environmentalist,” Steyer, a billionaire activist, said while he was at an annual United Nations climate conference in Katowice, Poland. The conference has attracted delegates from all over the world to discuss how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and curb global warming.
Instead of seeking bipartisanship on climate change issues, Steyer called for defeating Republicans at the ballot box in order to enact the type of legislation he supports.
“I think we need to kick their ass,” Steyer stated at the conference, according to Axios. “I think when they realize they’re going away, they’ll change their tune. And Carlos Curbelo is a perfect example. He pretended to care about climate change because of Miami.”
Steyer is referring to Curbelo’s introduction of a carbon tax bill in July. The legislation failed to gain any traction among his Republican colleagues and was essentially dead on arrival, but Curbelo said he hoped the bill would spark a conversation among conservative lawmakers. The Florida congressman, who represents the Miami area, says he cares about environmental issues because his district is affected by flooding from sea level rise.
Unfortunately for Curbelo, he was not able to survive re-election in a year that proved to be good for House Democrats. He was long considered at risk given the Miami district leans Democratic.
When an Axios reporter informed Curbelo of Steyer’s comments, the outgoing congressman hit back hard.
“The cause of a healthy planet needs thoughtful, sober leaders who are willing to build consensus around good, viable ideas,” Curbelo said. “Power hungry, attention-seeking demagogues like Mr. Steyer serve their overheated egos while making solutions less likely.”
Curbelo’s response is a clear reference to Steyer’s political ambitions. The liberal mega-donor has spent millions in past election cycles attempting to elect Democrats and usher in stricter environmental rules — many of the candidates and referendums he’s backed have lost at the ballot box.
There are growing indications that the former California hedge fund manager is angling for a 2020 presidential run. Many have speculated that Steyer is using two national groups he’s founded — NextGen Climate Action and Need to Impeach — as launching pads for an eventual presidential campaign.
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