In an interview with CNN's Dana Bash on Sunday, billionaire philanthropist and Democratic mega-donor Tom Steyer explained how he can support Bernie Sanders on getting money out of politics while being the single biggest donor in American politics. Steyer donated more than $91 million to Democrats in 2016 and is currently funding a TV commercial advocating for the impeachment of President Trump to the tune of $20 milion. Steyer also refuses to rule out challenging California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein in 2018.
"I'm absolutely in favor of changing the way that money is used in politics," he said. "And I think it is a huge problem, and I think it should be changed."
"If you want to change the way money works in politics, we're all behind you," Steyer said. "We're working with the system we have right now as transparently and straightforwardly as possible."
Transcript and full interview via CNN:
BASH: Briefly, where are you in your process of not ruling out a run for the Senate?
STEYER: I don't need to rule it out. The fact of the matter is, right now...
BASH: Are you going to run? Are you going to run? Do you think there's any chance that you're going to run?
STEYER: I don't need to rule it out, and I can have time to think about it. The fact of the matter is, I'm spending all of my time working to make sure that this petition gets as broad a listen as possible.
And, in addition, we are a huge grassroots organization registering, engaging and mobilizing voters around the country. So, I have a more than full-time job without running for any specific office.
BASH: I have to ask you about the other thing that you have done politically. And that is raise a lot of money and give a lot of money.
You have said that the Democratic Party needs to get behind Bernie Sanders and his policies. But at the top of his agenda is limiting the influence of big money in politics.
You were the biggest donor in the 2016 election cycle, giving over $91 million to Democrats. Are you a part of the problem that Bernie Sanders is working to fix?
STEYER: Well, first of all, I'm absolutely in favor of changing the way that money is used in politics. And I think it is a huge problem, and I think it should be changed.
Let me make two points. One, we try and do this in as transparent a way as possible, which is why I'm on your show right now, why I say everything that we're doing straightforwardly, so people can look at me and gauge whether I'm telling the truth and why I'm doing it.
And, secondly, when you talk about spending that money, that money is spent on going door to door and having citizens talk to citizens about the issues of the day.
It's spent registering over a million people in 2016 to make sure we get the broadest possible democracy. It's going on to 370 college campuses to talk to young people about the issues, to engage them, so that they will involve themselves and see the importance in the political process.
In facts, what our organization does is try and make sure every underrepresented group gets registered, engaged and gets its voice in politics.
So, in fact, we are trying to make the democracy as broad and strong as possible. If you want to change the way money works in politics, we're all behind you. We're working with the system we have right now as transparently and straightforwardly as possible.