Tom Steyer


Democrat donor to run impeachment ads during Trump’s State of the Union

The clock is ticking.


Ellen Ioanes


Posted on Jan 30, 2018   Updated on May 22, 2021, 2:50 am CDT

Democratic donor and hedge fund manager Tom Steyer is using his billions to fund an advertising campaign pushing for Donald Trump’s impeachment, set to run during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.

While wealthy Republicans have opted to do things like pump money into Congressional campaigns and purchase media outlets, over the past year Steyer has opted to film ads calling for Trump’s impeachment. In October, Steyer aired $10 million worth of television ads calling for Trump’s impeachment, directing viewers to his online petition to impeach the president. So far, according to the site, nearly five million Americans have signed it.

Tuesday night’s ad, titled “Time to Act,” features Steyer asking, “What can a president do in 30 seconds?” over ominous music and a close-up shot of a ticking clock. The ad continues, with Steyer referencing a few of the troubling things that Trump has done during his time in office, like threatening the status of DACA recipients and provoking Kim Jong-Un.

“How bad does it have to get before Congress does something?” asks Steyer as the clock approaches its terminus.

With Republicans controlling both houses of Congress (although the margin in the Senate is very narrow), impeachment proceedings seem unlikely. But Steyer has committed $40 million to the effort, including TV ads, the online petition, and billboards in Times Square. Earlier this month, he also delivered copies of Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury to every member of Congress.

While Steyer has ruled out a run for office in California, his home state, he has funded voter registration efforts through his PAC, NextGen America, pledging $30 million to get young people registered to vote and out to the polls in 2018. NextGen helped register 20,000 voters in Virginia last year, according to Steyer; the state elected a Democratic governor and captured a number of GOP seats in the House of Delegates. With Republicans holding a majority in 62 of 99 state chambers, Democrats need to replicate the success of the Virginia elections many times over to even the playing field.

On a national level, Steyer has also funded the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, (DSCC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. But following last week’s shutdown, Steyer has drawn a line in the sand, refusing to continue donating to the committees after Democrats caved on a deal to fund the government and protect DACA recipients.

“I don’t have a litmus test on any one thing, but I do have a litmus test for elected officials standing on principle and doing the right thing, looked at holistically. And I want to say that after the DACA vote I have decided not to give anything to the national party committees,” said Steyer in an interview with Fortune.

Steyer’s ads will run well past the State of the Union, through Feb. 12.

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*First Published: Jan 30, 2018, 11:03 am CST