The New York Times today gushed on its front page about San Francisco hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer ponying up a cool $100M to educate Americans about the dangers of global warming.

tom steyerThe piece embraced Steyer as a political fellow traveler, depicting him as fighting the good fight in the light of weak support from Democrats, who are more interesting in protecting their own political hides than in pushing for needed reforms to combat warming.

If Steyer comes through with the spending, he’ll be the political counter-weight to Charles and David Koch, billionaire advocates of conservative causes.

There is one huge difference. And that is in the area of transparency.

Steyer is front and center in his advocacy. In leading opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, for instance, Steyer has appeared in a series of 90-second ads blistering the project that could transport heavy Canadian tar sands to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast.

His NextGen Climate Action vehicle is all over the Internet.

In contrast, the Koch brothers prefer to operate behind-the-scenes or lurk in the shadows.

That intended non-profile is a godsend to critics, who rap the duo as nefarious, manipulative string-pullers. Some pan the Koch brothers for backing shell platforms to do their bidding, while offering political cover.

The Koch Bros. are kidding themselves. Their quest for anonymity is a somewhat quaint, but ridiculous notion in the era on the web.

As long as the Supreme Court’s misguided Citizens United decision remains the law of the land, Steyer and the Kochs have every right to shell out massive amounts of money to get their way.

The secretiveness of the Brothers Koch hurts or dilutes their message and provides fuel to critics.

A little PR transparency would serve the Brothers well. After all, what are they trying to hide?