Rebekah Mercer

Rebekah A. Mercer

Credentials

  • Attended Stanford University, receiving a dual bachelor’s degree in biology and mathematics, and a master’s of science degree in operations research and engineering economic systems. [1] 

Background

Rebekah A. Mercer is one of the three daughters of billionaire Robert Mercer, a major donor for Republican candidates. Rebekah is Director of The Mercer Family Foundation, which has given millions of dollars to conservative causes. According to Politico and The Hill, she oversees the majority of the foundation's political giving. [2], [3][1]

The New York Times reported that the Mercer family's strategists, super PACs, and other political organizations “have emerged to play a pivotal role in Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.” Rebekah has been at the forefront of the effort, having served on the Executive Committee of Donald Trump's transition team as well as introduced major players Stephen K. Bannon, now Chief Strategist to President Trump, and Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the President. [4], [5]

While the Mercers often try to avoid media attention themselves, The Daily Beast reported that “the Mercers have put a special premium on actually changing the media landscape, investing heavily in projects that try to shift how American news consumers understand American politics.” [6]

According to Politico, both Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah regularly attended Koch donor summits and initially contributed to the Koch network. However, when Rebekah became frustrated with the political ineffectiveness of the network, they shifted focus to the Mercer Family Foundation and used it to channel their support to conservative causes. [2]

The Mercer foundation have funded a variety of climate change denial think tanks as well as climate deniers like Arthur Robinson of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM). [7]

The Hill notes that she identifies as libertarian, according to one source, and is also a a big supporter of libertarian think tanks like the Goldwater Institute and the Cato Institute. Rebekah is also a board member of The Heritage Foundation. She was also on the Board of Directors of the the nonprofit Government Accountability Institute, a group with connections to Stephen Bannon's Breitbart News, the Washington Post reported in 2016. [3], [8]

Mercer Family Foundation

According to a 2013 study by Drexel University sociologist Robert Brulle's titled “Institutionalizing delay: foundation funding and the creation of U.S. climate change counter-movement organizations,” The Mercer Family Foundation spent at least $3,824,000 between 2003 and 2010 directly funding groups opposing climate change action. That money went to organizatons including The Heartland InstituteManhattan InstituteMedia Research Center, and Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM). [9]

Among the groups funded by the Mercer Family Foundation include The Chicago-based Heartland Institute, which received $4,988,000 from the Mercers since 2008.  Robert Mercer also spent $1.25 million supporting the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, a little-known group led led by climate change denier Art Robinson[10]

Robinson was behind the long-debunked Oregon petition. First published in 1998, the petition claimed that 30,000 “scientists” had declared humans were not to blame for global warming. [10]

The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research is another group receiving funding from the Mercers, having donations exceeding $1 million since 2011. [10]

The Heritage Foundation regularly attacks mainstream climate change science. Rebekah Mercer is a trustee at Heritage while David Kreutzer, also affiliated with Heritage, served on Trump's EPA “landing team” and has claimed the recent run of record-breaking hot years globally is nothing unusual[10][11], [12]

The Cato Institute and Americans for Prosperity, two more groups funded by the Mercers, have attacked the science of human-caused climate change while challenging the legitimacy of solutions, such as renewable energy and electric vehicles. [10]

Political Spending

According to data retrieved from the Federal Election Commission, Rebekah Mercer made the following personal contributions to political groups including Super PACs, joint fundraising efforts, and other political committees: [13]

Recipient 2004 2010 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Grand Total
TRUMP VICTORY $449,400 $449,400
ROMNEY VICTORY, INC. $65,800 $65,800
REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE $30,800 $30,800
FOUNDERS SENATE CANDIDATE COMMITTEE $25,000 $25,000
RESTORE OUR MAJORITY 2013 $20,800 $20,800
TED CRUZ VICTORY COMMITTEE $5,200 $10,200 $15,400
CLUB FOR GROWTH ACTION $15,000 $15,000
ROBINSON, ART DRVIA ART ROBINSON FOR CONGRESS $4,800 $5,000 $5,200 $15,000
MCDANIEL, CHRISTOPHER BRIAN VIA FRIENDS OF CHRIS MCDANIEL $10,400 $10,400
CLUB FOR GROWTH PAC $5,000 $5,000 $10,000
NY REPUBLICAN FEDERAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE $10,000 $10,000
BROUN, PAUL COLLINS VIA PAUL BROUN COMMITTEE $7,800 -$5,200 $5,200 $7,800
CRUZ, RAFAEL EDWARD TED VIA TED CRUZ FOR SENATE $7,500 $7,500
IDAHO REPUBLICAN PARTY $7,500 $7,500
MASSACHUSETTS REPUBLICAN PARTY $7,500 $7,500
OKLAHOMA LEADERSHIP COUNCIL $7,500 $7,500
VERMONT REPUBLICAN FEDERAL ELECTIONS COMMITTEE $7,500 $7,500
LEE, MIKE VIA FRIENDS OF MIKE LEE INC $5,200 $600 $5,800
FASO, JOHN J. MRVIA FASO FOR CONGRESS $5,400 $5,400
DESANTIS, RONALD D. VIA RON DESANTIS FOR FLORIDA $5,400 $5,400
GARRETT, SCOTT REPVIA SCOTT GARRETT FOR CONGRESS $5,400 $5,400
SASSE, BENJAMINVIA BEN SASSE FOR US SENATE INC $5,200 $5,200
KING, STEVE MRVIA KING FOR CONGRESS $2,500 $2,700 $5,200
ROMNEY, MITT / PAUL D. RYAN VIA ROMNEY FOR PRESIDENT, INC. $5,000 $5,000
CONSERVATIVE VICTORY COMMITTEE $5,000 $5,000
MAKE DC LISTEN $5,000 $5,000
RUBIO, MARCO VIA MARCO RUBIO FOR PRESIDENT $4,800 $4,800
TENNEY, CLAUDIA VIA TENNEY FOR CONGRESS $2,700 $2,700
TAYLOR, SCOTT W. MRVIA SCOTT TAYLOR FOR CONGRESS $2,700 $2,700
MCCARTER, KYLE VIA KYLE MCCARTER FOR CONGRESS COMMITTEE $2,700 $2,700
FLEMING, JOHN C JR VIA FLEMING FOR LOUISIANA $2,700 $2,700
PALMER, GARY VIA GARY PALMER FOR CONGRESS $2,700 $2,700
CRUZ, RAFAEL EDWARDTED“ VIA CRUZ FOR PRESIDENT $5,400 -$2,700 $2,700
BANKS, JAMESVIA JIM BANKS FOR CONGRESS, INC. $2,700 $2,700
FIORINA, CARLY VIA CARLY FOR PRESIDENT $2,700 $2,700
BLUM, RODNEY VIA BLUM FOR CONGRESS $2,700 $2,700
MANESS, ROBERT L COL. RET VIA FRIENDS OF COLONEL ROB MANESS $2,700 $2,700
HIGBLE, CARLTON MILO IV VIA FRIENDS OF CARL $2,600 $2,600
MOLL, THOMAS VIA MOLL FOR CONGRESS INC $7,800 -$5,200 $2,600
COTTON, THOMAS VIA COTTON FOR SENATE $2,500 $2,500
MOURDOCK, RICHARDVIA HOOSIERS FOR RICHARD MOURDOCK INC $2,500 $2,500
NEUMANN, MARKVIA FRIENDS OF MARK NEUMANN INC $2,500 $2,500
MANDEL, JOSH VIA CITIZENS FOR JOSH MANDEL INC $2,500 $2,500
SCOTT, TIMOTHY VIA TIM SCOTT FOR CONGRESS $2,400 $2,400
WALSH, DANA VIA DANA WALSH FOR CONGRESS $2,400 $2,400
DUNCAN, JEFFREY D MRVIA JEFF DUNCAN FOR CONGRESS $2,400 $2,400
SMITH, ROBIN TUCKER VIA ROBIN SMITH FOR TENNESSEE $2,400 $2,400
DEMINT, JAMESVIA TEAM DEMINT $2,400 $2,400
TOOMEY, PATRICK JOSEPH VIA FRIENDS OF PAT TOOMEY $2,400 $2,400
BUSH, GEORGEVIA BUSH-CHENEY '04 (PRIMARY) INC $2,000 $2,000
Grand Total $2,000 $34,000 $176,600 $46,800 $48,200 $29,700 $486,400 $823,700

Stance on Climate Change

While Rebekah Mercer has not released an official statement on climate change, the foundation which she runs has spent millions funding a network of groups that deny man-made climate change.  [10]

Key Quotes

Both Rebekah and Robert Mercer try to stay out of the public eye, and have never spoken publicly about their motivations. In 2010, Robert Mercer told the Wall Street Journal, “I'm happy going through my life without saying anything to anybody.” [14]

Key Deeds

March 23, 2017

The Washington Post reported that Robert and Rebekah Mercer attended The Heartland Institute's Twelfth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC12) in Washington, DC. On the first day of the conference, they joined Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast for the lunch keynote speech where “They listened intently as Patrick J. Michaels, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for the Study of Science, argued that the Obama administration erred in finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health,” reported the Post. [26], [27]

February 24, 2017

Larry Solov of Britbart News, working to secure official credentials for Capitol Hill, revealed that the Mercer family were co-owners of the website, Politico reported.  BuzzFeed's Steve Perlberg, who live-tweeted the meeting, noted that the owners included the site's CEO Larry Solov, founder Andrew Breitbart's widow, Susie Breitbart, and the Mercer family with Breitbart's family owning the largest stake. [24], [25]

January 23, 2017

Politico reported that Rebekah and Robert Mercer were considering abandoning an outside political group that would advance the agenda of Donald Trump. While Politico wrote that the exact reason that Rebekah became unhappy with the plans for the organization was unclear, “What is clear is that she may be nearing a breaking point both with Parscale and Nick Ayers, the Trump aides slated to run the group, as well as with Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus and his political guru Steve Hantler, who are expected to provide key financial backing for the effort.” [15]

Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics firm owned largely by the Mercer family, had already begun doing work for the outside effort,  a source familiar with the conversations told Politico, although it was not clear whether that work was ongoing. [15]

September 7, 2016

USA Today reported that Mercer was to take over operations of the anti-Hillary Clinton super PAC Make America Number 1, formerly the pro-Ted cruz “Keep the Promise” PAC. At the time the super PAC's spokesperson, Hogan Gidley, said, “She’s the driving force behind its activity, and she’s taking an active role in its day-to-day operation.” [16]

According to Politico, Make America Number 1 was “colloquially known as the “Defeat Crooked Hillary PAC.” [17]

August 17, 2016

The Washington Post reported that Mercer's played a role in introducing Stephen Bannon and Trump at a fundraising event. [18]

“According to three Republicans familiar with that event, Trump was confronted by several supporters there, including mega-donor Rebekah Mercer, about news reports on his advisers’ desire to tame his personality” The Washington Post reported. “Trump was visibly infuriated at the news stories, the Republicans said, and he conferred with Mercer about potential steps he might take to remake his campaign and populate his inner circle with voices more like his own. Bannon’s name soon came up.” [18]

July, 2016

According to Bloomberg, Mercer's two closest political aids were “essentially running the Trump Campaign” Stephen Bannon, the Trump Campaign's chief executive, and Kellyanne Conway, the campaign manager were both longtime advisers to Robert Mercer and connected projects. While initially the Mercers had focused their full political support on Ted Cruz, they shifted their support to Trump after Cruz dropped out. [19]

A GOP fundraiser who worked with Mercer and people in the Trump campaign told Politico in November, 2016: [20]

It would be difficult to overstate Rebekah’s influence in Trump world right now. She is a force of nature. She is aggressive, and she makes her point known.” [20]

The shift followed a meeting in Manhattan that included Mercer's daughter Rebekah, Conway, and Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, Bloomberg reported.The Mercers issued a public statement, making their support for Donald Trump (and opposition to Clinton) clear: [19]

“The Democratic Party will soon choose as their nominee a candidate who would repeal both the First and Second Amendments of the Bill of Rights, a nominee who would remake the Supreme Court in her own image,” the Mercers wrote. “We need all hands on deck to ensure that Mr. Trump prevails.” [19]

Bloomberg noted that the Mercer family has ties to Steve Bannon dating to 2011, when Bannon's conservative Breitbart News network was struggling financially, and Mercer made a $10 million equity investment When Bannon founded the Government Accountability Institute the next year, the Mercer's family foundation also became a major supporter. [19]

2015

Politico reported that the Mercer family provided the majority of the $37 million raised by super-PACs supporting Ted Cruz for the GOP presidential nomination. Cruz contracted Cambridge Analytica, a group largely owned by the Mercers that uses  “psychographic” analyses of voters to try to win them over with narrowly targeted micro-messages. [21]

“So far, most of Cambridge Analytica’s work appears to have come from campaigns and committees funded in large part by the Mercers. And sources familiar with the Mercers’ political efforts said that Rebekah Mercer, who has steered the family’s political expansion, has made introductions between Cambridge Analytica and the political committees the family support,” Politico reported in 2015.  [21]

Affiliations

PACs & SuperPACs

  • Make America Number 1 (Formerly Keep the Promise I— Formed with $11 million donation from Robert Mercer.  [22]

Social Media

  • A user named Rebekah Mercer appears to have joined Twitter (@Bekah_Mercer) in February, 2017. At the time, she had one follower and no public posts. As of October 2017, the account was listed as suspended.

Publications

While Rebekah Mercer does not appear to have authored any books of her own, she was a funder and board member of the Government Accountability Institute, which produced the 2015 book, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich. she also served as a co-executive producer of the “Clinton Cash” movie. [23]

Resources

  1. Board of Trustees,” The Heritage Foundation. Archived February 27, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/szkEI

  2. The most powerful woman in GOP politics,” Politico, September 7, 2016. Archived November 2, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/c2xts

  3. Jonathan Swan. “Billionaire father and daughter linked to Trump shake-up,” The Hill, July 17, 2016. Archived February 27, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/STnSf

  4. Nicholas Confessore. “How One Family’s Deep Pockets Helped Reshape Donald Trump’s Campaign,” The New York Times, August 18, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/5KwgQ

  5. Jeff Stein. “Donald Trump’s transition team includes 3 Trump kids and 5 millionaires,” Vox, November 11, 2016. Archived February 27, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/1MCT8

  6. Betsy Woodruff. “The Secret Heiress Funding the Right-Wing Media,” The Daily Beast, September 12, 2016. Archived February 27, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/EAQMT

  7. What Kind of Man Spends Millions to Elect Ted Cruz?” Bloomberg, January 20, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/Oe3hY

  8. Robert O'Harrow Jr. “Trump adviser received salary from charity while steering Breitbart News,” The Washington Post, November 23, 2016. Archived February 27, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/EDInc

  9. Study Details Dark Money Flowing to Climate Science Denial,” DeSmog, December 23, 2013.

  10. Graham Readfearn. “How Donald Trump Kingmaker-Billionaires Robert and Rebekah Mercer Have Poured Millions Into Climate Science Denial,” DeSmog, January 12, 2017.

  11. Graham Readfearn. “'Landing Team' for Trump's EPA: Climate Science Deniers and a Lawyer Known For Harassing Climate Scientists,” DeSmog, December 7, 2016.

  12. David Kreutzer. “Why Calling 2015 the Warmest Year on Record Is Problematic,” The Daily Signal, January 22, 2016. Archived February 16, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/YfL70

  13. FEC Search performed February 27, 2017. Archived .xlsx on file at DeSmog.

  14. Scott Patterson and Jenny Strasburg. “Pioneering Fund Stages Second Act,” The Wall Street Journal, March 16, 2010.

  15. Eliana Johnson and Kenneth P. Vogel. “Trump’s biggest donors consider abandoning new political arm,” Politico, January 23, 2017. Archived February 27, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/Br7Rr

  16. Fredreka Schouten. “Wealthy donor will run anti-Clinton super PAC,” USA Today, September 7, 2016. Archived February 27, 2017. Archive.is URL:https://archive.is/3tVrS

  17. Kenneth P. Vogel and Darren Samuelsohn. “Trump's secret data reversal,” Politico, June 28, 2016. Archived February 27, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/GeD8g

  18. Robert Costa, Jose A. DelReal, and Jenna Johnson. “Trump shakes up campaign, demotes top adviser,” The Washington Post, August 17, 2016. Archived February 27, 2016. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/9SnjF

  19. Zachary Mider. “Trump’s New Team Brings Deep Ties to Major Donor Robert Mercer,” Bloomberg, August 17, 2016. Archived February 27, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/Z1LGn

  20. The heiress quietly shaping Trump’s operation,” Politico, November 21, 2016. Archived February 27, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/4V1Rs 

  21. Kenneth P. Vogel and Tarini Parti. “Cruz partners with donor's 'psychographic' firm,” Politico, July 7, 2015. Archived February 27, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/Hd50N

  22. Mate Gold. “The rise of GOP mega-donor Rebekah Mercer,” The Washington Post, September 14, 2016. Archived February 27, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/yZxZB

  23. Joshua Green and Zachary Mider. “New Super-PAC Launches for Donors Who Won't Back Trump But Loathe Clinton,” Bloomberg, June 21, 2016. Archived February 27, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/qcEDG

  24. Hadas Gold. “Breitbart reveals owners: CEO Larry Solov, the Mercer family and Susie Breitbart,” Politico, February 24, 2017. Archived March 6, 2016. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/nJ9Ek

  25. And we're back. The owners of Breitbart are Solov, Andrew Breitbart's widow, and the Mercer family,” Twitter post by Steven Perlberg, February 24, 2017. Archived .png on file at DeSmog.

  26. ABOUT,” ICCC12. Archived March 27, 2017.

  27. Matea Gold and Chris Mooney. “The Mercers, Trump mega-donors, back group that casts doubt on climate science,” The Washington Post, March 27, 2017. Archived March 27, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/d95v0

Other Resources