Julian Robertson, a top Republican donor, New Zealand luxury golf course owner and legendary hedge-fund manager, is backing a campaign to push the party's candidates to support clean-energy policies.
Robertson recently gave US$500,000 to a new super-PAC known as ClearPath Action, which advocates for nuclear and hydroelectric power and cleaner coal and natural gas technology.
"The time has come for Republicans to embrace a conservative clean energy platform," the billionaire investor said in an e-mail to Bloomberg.
ClearPath is the brainchild of Jay Faison, a North Carolina entrepreneur and Republican. In addition to the super-PAC, which plans to support Republicans in congressional races this year, he's also funded a related US$165 million nonprofit foundation dedicated to clean energy.
Faison plans to raise about $5 million for the super-PAC this year, and has already put in $1.5 million of his own money. Robertson is the first outside donor to get behind Faison's project publicly.
Robertson, 83, is a major supporter of environmental causes in his own right. He serves on the board of the Environmental Defense Fund, and gave that group $40 million between 2005 and 2009 to advocate for a "cap and trade" policy to limit greenhouse-gas emissions. A cap-and-trade bill was ultimately blocked by Senate Republicans.
In New Zealand, where Robertson spends part of the year and owns several high-end resorts, he gave $5 million for a research institute focused on studying climate change in Antarctica.
Robertson, who like Faison is from North Carolina, was dubbed the "Wizard of Wall Street" for his stock-picking record at New York-based Tiger Management. In 2000, he returned capital to outside investors and shifted focus to providing seed capital to other hedge-fund managers.
A top donor to Mitt Romney in 2012, Robertson put $1.1 million behind Jeb Bush's presidential bid last year. After Bush left the race in February, Robertson sent $500,000 to a group supporting John Kasich.
Although the ClearPath super-PAC hasn't disclosed spending on any races yet, Faison's personal contributions hint at the candidates his group may support. He gave $500,000 last year to a super-PAC supporting Kelly Ayotte, a Republican senator seeking re-election in New Hampshire who's often crossed party lines to support environmental measures.
The mainstream view among climate scientists that human-caused greenhouse-gas emissions are warming the atmosphere is anathema among congressional Republicans. Sen. Ted Cruz, who's garnered the second-most delegates in the Republican presidential primary, calls it a "pseudoscientific theory" and contends the earth is actually in a cooling phase.
Faison says he's personally concerned about humans' role in global warming, but doesn't make that the focus of his campaign.
"We don't have to agree on climate change," he said in an interview. "We're in this ditch of whether it is true or not, and therefore we're not doing things that we'd all agree to do anyway."
• In 2009 Robertson and his now late wife, Josie, stunned the art world by gifting 15 paintings to the Auckland Art Gallery on their deaths.
At an estimated value of $115 million, the paintings - by Picasso, Gaugin, Cezanne, Matisse and Mondrian - are worth more than it cost to refurbish and expand the gallery.
• He owns top golfing resorts Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers and several wineries. He was given an honourary knighthood in 2011 and describes himself as "part-Kiwi".