Republicans Are Accidentally Making Money for the Mega-Donor Who Wants to Beat Them

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 10 2014 8:58 AM

Republicans Are Accidentally Making Money for the Mega-Donor Who Wants to Beat Them

Tom Steyer laughs all the way to the stage of the Democratic National Convention.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Republicans and conservatives have spent four years defending their financial benefactors from the "puppetmaster" attacks of the left. The left's only turned up the heat; Harry Reid has used two weeks of Senate speeches to condemn Charles and David Koch and their support for Republicans. At CPAC, Mitch McConnell and Chris Christie glommed on to the bait, defending the "great Americans" who merely wanted a voice in politics.

But this isn't usually how campaigns against rich donors are answered. It's a sort of Kaiju-vs.-Jaeger situation—there needs to be a rival "evil billionaire," ripe for demonization and accusations of hypocrisy. From 2003 to, well, now, conservatives attacked George Soros' investments in Democratic causes. Much more recently they've learned to attack Tom Steyer, an environmentalist who dumped millions into 2013's elections to blunt Republican momentum. Steyer spent $8 million to wear down Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia's gubernatorial race. Cuccinelli tried to shame Democrats for taking this money from a job-killing Keystone-hater. Voters didn't care.

Now, according to Politico, Steyer is going to push up to $100 million into the 2014 elections. Republicans will quickly learn to demonize him. In the meantime, they're going to be making him richer.


How? Well, Republican campaigns at several levels have been using the services of Piryx Inc., which has developed the crowdfunding tool Rally. In 2013 the RNC paid $84,000 to Piryx. The NRCC paid $33,000. Before that, Mitt Romney's presidential campaign paid out more than $3 million to Piryx.

Like I said, though, Republicans are largely paying Piryx for the Rally product. As anyone can see on's website, Tom Steyer is an investor, just like Obama campaign veteran Andrew Bleeker and No Labels mastermind Mark McKinnon. In 2013, while Ken Cuccinelli was being hit by $8 million of spending from Steyer, his campaign was spending $100,000 on a product Steyer invests in.

Now you can see why Republicans keep making stabs into Silicon Valley, to find their own talent. In the meantime, they're paying Democrats for their tools.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.

Why all cracker names sound alike.

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Afghan Town With a Legitimately Good Tourism Pitch

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
Future Tense
Sept. 21 2014 11:38 PM “Welcome to the War of Tomorrow” How Futurama’s writers depicted asymmetrical warfare.
  Health & Science
The Good Word
Sept. 21 2014 11:44 PM Does This Name Make Me Sound High-Fat? Why it just seems so right to call a cracker “Cheez-It.”
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.