Tom Steyer became a billionaire after founding the investment firm Farallon Capital. He has since left the firm and focused on philanthropic causes. Steyer is also a vocal critic of Donald Trump.

Steyer is currently running for the Democratic presidential nomination. So far his campaign hasn't gained much traction. Recent reports might not help.

Reportedly offered money to lawmakers in Iowa

Pat Murphy is a former speaker and minority leader of the Iowa House of Representatives. He was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2014, losing to Republican Rod Blum.

More recently, he's been a key figure in Tom Steyer's campaign in Iowa. And he's reportedly been taking drastic action for his candidate.

Murphy told state politicians that Steyer would give them campaign contributions if they endorsed him. The Los Angeles Times reports that Murphy was not authorized to make such offers. Murphy said a 'miscommunication' was to blame.

According to MSN, an endorsement in exchange for a campaign contribution isn't illegal if it's properly disclosed. But it tends to look bad. Very bad. Former State Senator Thomas G. Courtney said it 'left a bad taste in my mouth' after getting the offer. Courtney was the majority whip of the Iowa Senate before losing his seat to Republican Thomas Greene.

Now, he's making another Senate run.

It also might not help the narrative that billionaire Steyer is trying to buy the presidency. And the monetary offers don't seem to have done much to secure endorsements. Steyer has only received one high-profile endorsement in Iowa.

Not the first instance in Iowa

A similar case happened during the 2012 election cycle on the Republican side.

That time, it was centered on Ron Paul. Paul was then a Republican U.S. representative from Texas and a former Libertarian Party presidential nominee. He's also the father of U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Paul's campaign chairman (and grandson-in-law), manager and deputy manager paid State Senator Kent Sorenson for his support.

Sorenson did so, abruptly changing his endorsement after he'd supported Minnesota U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann for the nomination.

In this case, the payments were made illegally. Paul's campaign staff members were found guilty. Sorenson resigned his Senate seat and pleaded guilty. He has since gotten into further legal trouble.

None of this seemed to help Paul in Iowa much either. Paul finished third in Iowa. The state was won by former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum from Pennsylvania. Ultimately, the nomination went to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Romney is now a U.S. senator representing Utah and is also a frequent critic of Donald Trump.