Tom Steyer, the billionaire climate activist and possible candidate for California governor, was under consideration to become President Barack Obama’s first energy secretary, according to a hacked email exchange released Monday by WikiLeaks.
John Podesta, an Obama transition adviser and now chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, included Steyer’s name for the Cabinet post in September 2008 correspondence. Obama selected Steven Chu.
But when the president sought Chu’s replacement, Podesta again lauded Steyer, who this time made the short list, telling The Washington Post that he possessed “the right skill set, the understanding and attitude to lead an energy transformation in this country.”
The job went to Ernest Moniz, a nuclear physicist.
Emails from 2012, also disclosed by WikiLeaks, showed Podesta discussing a planned meeting between Steyer and former President Bill Clinton. Podesta wrote in the exchange that he would try to push Steyer to support the Clinton Foundation.
The praise heaped on Steyer, a major Democratic donor, by one of Clinton’s top advisers is being scrutinized for its political ramifications in California. Should Clinton win next month, she may look to Steyer for a Cabinet position, giving him direct White House policy experience and a formal title as he mulls a run for governor.
Email correspondence between Podesta and Cassandra Butts, a member of Obama’s transition team, also show that then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, was among those listed as potential candidates to become energy secretary.