Robert Mercer

Robert Mercer

Credentials

  • Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Illinois [1]
  • B.S. from the University of New Mexico

Background

Robert Mercer, 70, is the co-chief executive officer of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies. In November 2017, in an effort to distance himself from controversy, Mercer announced he would step down from the hedge fund after facing “great scrutiny from the press” as well as sell his stake in Breitbart News to his daughters. In 2016, Mercer and his daughter Rebekah Mercer emerged as influential figures in Donald Trump's presidential campaign. [2], [34], [35]

Robert Mercer was listed as #18 on Forbes's list of the highest-earning Hedge Fund Managers in 2016 with earnings listed at $150 million. Mercer is one of the Republican Party's largest contributors, and spent $11 million backing Ted Cruz's presidential bid. Mercer formerly worked at IBM, where he developed speech recognition programs at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center. He and IBM colleague Peter Brown joined James Simons' Renaissance Technologies in 1993 where they now serve as co-CEOs. [1], [3]

Robert Mercer's foundation, The Mercer Family Foundation, is run by his daughter Rebekah Mercer and has funnelled millions of dollars to conservative causes. Mercer and his 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)[4][1]

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. In their time supporting the Kochs, the Mercer family gave at least $25 million to the network of Koch-connected groups. In 2014, Robert Mercer mad ea $2.5 million contribution nto the Koch's Freedom Parters Action fund, prompting the headling in Bloomberg News: The Man who out-Koched the Kochs.” [15], [28][9]

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)[5]

Robert Mercer and Donald Trump

According to the Center for Public Integrity (CIP), Robert Mercer emerged as the “single most influential donor to Trump.” [2] Bloomberg reports that Rober Mercer's Super-PAC, while not endorsing Donald Trump directly, would focus '”solely on attacking Clinton.” Mercer's Super-PAC, Make America Number 1, funds a special project titled “Defeat Crooked HIllary.” Make America Number 1 was a revamped version of Mercer's Keep the Promise I, a group that had supported Texas Senator Ted Cruz. [14], [13]

The Center for Public Integrity (CIP) notes that Robert Mercer has funded “anti-establishment groups and insurgent candidates working to pull the Republican Party further to the right, rather than the business-backed organizations closely associated with the Republican establishment, adding to his reputation as an ideologically motivated giver.” [2]

Mercer has heavily funding conservative news outlets such as Breitbart News and Brent Bozell's Media Research Center. He’s also backed the Citizens United Foundation and the Government Accountability Institute, organizations strongly opposing Hillary Clinton. Notably, Stephen K. Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart, is Donald Trump's new Campaign Chief. [2]

The New York Times reports that Mercer's strategists, super PACs, and other political organizations as well as his daughter, Rebekah Mercer, “have emerged to play a pivotal role in Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign”: [6]

  • Kellyanne Conway, Mr. Trump's new campaign manager, oversaw a super PAC financed by the Mercer family.
  • Stephen K. Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News (in which Mercer has a reported $10 million invested) is Donald Trump's new Campaign Chief.
  • Cambridge Analytica, a voter data firm supported by Mercer, are working to identify Trump supporters in the electorate.
  • David Bossie, whose projects have been funded in part by the Mercer Family Foundation, is working with a super PAC supporting trump.

“The fingerprints of Robert Mercer, a New York hedge fund billionaire, and his middle daughter, Rebekah, can be seen all over the new Trump staffing appointments and other decisions being made by the GOP presidential nominee,” The Hill reported in August. [7]

Jane Mayer, writing in The New Yorker, notes that the Mercers worked hard to oppose a Clinton victory: “If Clinton won, the Mercers claimed, she would 'repeal both the First and Second Amendments of the Bill of Rights.' Given the stakes, they said, 'all hands' were 'needed on deck' in order to insure a Trump victory. Cruz, they noted, had 'chosen to stay in his bunk below.'” [28]

In David Magerman's essay for in The Inquirer, he said that Mercer has “surrounded our President with his people, and his people have an outsized influence over the running of our country, simply because Robert Mercer paid for their seats.” [29]

Cambridge Analytica

Robert Mercer is one of the largest investors in the data science firm Cambridge Analytics, a group that worked on President Trump's campaign and advertises its ability to target voters through psychological profiling, reports The Washington Post.  [26], [27]

The Mercers invested approximately $5 million in the company. Cambridge Analytics is an American affiliate of Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL), based in London, and has done work extensively for Mercer-backed candidates. In its UK arm, it reportedly worked on the Brexit campaign. [28]

The firm's CEO, Alexander Nix, has said publicly that  “Persuading somebody to vote a certain way is really very similar to persuading 14- to 25-year-old boys in Indonesia to not join Al Qaeda.”  While critics have said the group's promotion as exceeded its effectiveness, Jonathan Albright, an assistant professor of communications at Elon University, published a paper calling Cambridge Analytica a “propaganda machine.” [28]

“Mercer, having revolutionized the use of data on Wall Street, was eager to accomplish the same feat in the political realm,” Jane Mayer wrote in her profile of Mercer in The New Yorker.  [28]

Political Spending

Contributions to Super PACs

The following is based on data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics/OpenSecrets.org, combined with the most recent available data at the Federal Election Commission (See .xlsx spreadsheet of FEC data): [8]

Recipient 2008 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Grand Total

Make America Number 1 (Formerly Keep The Promise I 

$11,000,000 $4,500,000 $15,500,000
John Bolton Super PAC $1,000,000 $2,000,000 $500,000 $3,500,000
Freedom Partners Action Fund $2,500,000 $2,500,000
Club for Growth Action $100,000 $500,000 $100,000 $1,050,000 $250,000 $2,000,000
American Crossroads $2,000,000 $2,000,000
Ending Spending Action Fund $1,750,000 $1,750,000
Restore Our Future $1,000,000 $1,000,000
Prosperity First $920,000 $920,000
Concerned Taxpayers of America $643,750 $643,750
Women Speak Out PAC $500,000 $500,000
New York Wins Pac $500,000 $500,000
Fighting for Ohio Fund $500,000 $500,000
KelliPAC $500,000 $500,000
B-PAC $500,000 $500,000
Republican Super PAC $439,354 $439,354
Black Americans For A Better Future $400,000 $25,000 $425,000
Warrior PAC $400,000 $400,000
New York 2014 $350,000 $350,000
American Heartland PAC $350,000 $350,000
Citizens for Ethics In Government $300,000 $300,000
Senate Conservatives Action $250,000 $30,000 $280,000
Believe Again $250,000 $250,000
Freedom PAC $250,000 $250,000
US Jobs Council $200,000 $200,000
National Horizon $200,000 $200,000
Fighting For Florida Fund $200,000 $200,000
Black Conservatives Fund $150,000 $150,000
Special Operations for America $120,000 $120,000
USA Super PAC $100,000 $100,000
Club for Growth.Net $20,000 $20,000
Make DC Listen $5,000 $5,000 $10,000
Grand Total $20,000 $643,750 $1,100,000 $4,309,354 $100,000 $9,120,000 $14,135,000 $6,930,000  $36,358,104 

Other Contributions & Joint Fundraising

The following is based on data publicly available at the Federal Election Commission (FEC). View the attached spreadsheet for contributions by year (.xlsx):

Committee Name Joint Fundraising Other Grand Total
REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE $631,700 $631,700
TEAM RYAN $244,200 -$2,700 $241,500
KELLIPAC $200,000 $200,000
NRSC $93,600 $93,600
PORTMAN VICTORY COMMITTEE $42,600 $42,600
FOUNDERS SENATE CANDIDATE COMMITTEE $27,000 $27,000
BELL, JEFFREY VIABELL FOR SENATE $21,200 $21,200
RESTORE OUR MAJORITY 2013 $20,800 $20,800
REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP COMMITTEE 2011 $20,000 $20,000
CLUB FOR GROWTH PAC $20,000 $20,000
REPUBLICAN PARTY OF MINNESOTA - FEDERAL $10,200 $4,800 $15,000
GINGREY, J PHILLIP VIAGINGREY FOR SENATE INC $13,000 $13,000
CAVASSO, CAMPBELLVIA CAM CAVASSO FOR U S SENATE $11,400 $11,400
GRASSLEY HAWKEYE FUND $10,400 $10,400
ERNST VICTORY $10,400 $10,400
SOUTH DAKOTA REPUBLICAN PARTY $10,000 $10,000
REPUBLICAN FEDERAL COMMITTEE OF PENNSYLVANIA $10,000 $10,000
TOOMEY PENNSYLVANIA VICTORY FUND $10,000 $10,000
AYOTTE, KELLY A VIA FRIENDS OF KELLY AYOTTE INC $10,000 $10,000
TOOMEY, PATRICK JOSEPH VIA FRIENDS OF PAT TOOMEY $10,000 $10,000
HIGBLE, CARLTON MILO IV VIAFRIENDS OF CARL $7,800 $7,800
LEE, MIKE VIA FRIENDS OF MIKE LEE INC $7,800 $7,800
MCCLINTOCK, THOMAS VIAMCCLINTOCK FOR CONGRESS $6,900 $6,900
CASSIDY, WILLIAMVIA BILL CASSIDY FOR US SENATE $5,800 $5,800
ROKITA, THEODORE EDWARD VIA HOOSIERS FOR ROKITA, INC. $5,400 $5,400
NIKPOUR, NOELLE VIANOELLE NIKPOUR FOR CONGRESS INC $5,400 $5,400
PHILLIPS, GEORGE KARL MR VIA PHILLIPS FOR CONGRESS $5,400 $5,400
BOOZMAN, JOHNVIA BOOZMAN FOR ARKANSAS $5,400 $5,400
TRUMP VICTORY $5,400 $5,400
DESANTIS, RONALD D. VIA RON DESANTIS FOR FLORIDA $5,400 $5,400
SASSE, BENJAMIN E VIA BEN SASSE FOR US SENATE INC $5,400 $5,400
SCOTT, TIMOTHY E VIA TIM SCOTT FOR SENATE $5,400 $5,400
WARD, KELLI VIA WARD FOR SENATE $5,400 $5,400
MCHENRY, PATRICK TIMOTHY VIA MCHENRY FOR CONGRESS $5,400 $5,400
FASO, JOHN J. MR. VIA FASO FOR CONGRESS $5,400 $5,400
GARRETT, SCOTT REP. VIA SCOTT GARRETT FOR CONGRESS $5,400 $5,400
BANKS, JAMES E VIA JIM BANKS FOR CONGRESS, INC. $5,400 $5,400
PALZER, THOMAS EDWARD VIA COMMITTEE TO ELECT TOM PALZER US SENATE 2016 $5,400 $5,400
ZINKE, RYANVIA ZINKE FOR CONGRESS $5,400 $5,400
MCCARTER, KYLE VIA KYLE MCCARTER FOR CONGRESS COMMITTEE $5,400 $5,400
MCSALLY, MARTHA E. MS. VIA MCSALLY FOR CONGRESS $5,300 $5,300
ERNST, JONIVIA JONI FOR IOWA $5,200 $5,200
BRANNON, GREGORY JOSEPH VIA BRANNON FOR US SENATE $5,200 $5,200
ZELDIN, LEEVIA ZELDIN FOR CONGRESS $5,200 $5,200
WOLF, MILTON VIA MILTON WOLF FOR US SENATE $5,200 $5,200
SUPPORTING CONSERVATIVES OF TODAY AND TOMORROW (SCOTT PAC) $5,000 $5,000
MAKE DC LISTEN $5,000 $5,000
THE FUND FOR AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM $5,000 $5,000
JOBS OPPORTUNITY AND NEW IDEAS PAC $5,000 $5,000
CONSERVATIVE VICTORY COMMITTEE $5,000 $5,000
ROMNEY, MITT / RYAN, PAUL D. VIA ROMNEY FOR PRESIDENT, INC. $5,000 $5,000
MARLIN PAC $5,000 $5,000
PROMOTING OUR REPUBLICAN TEAM PAC $5,000 $5,000
MACK, CONNIE VIA MACK PAC $5,000 $5,000
MANDEL, JOSH VIA CITIZENS FOR JOSH MANDEL INC $5,000 $5,000
MANAGED FUNDS ASSOCIATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $5,000 $5,000
SENATE CONSERVATIVES FUND $5,000 $5,000
BLACK CONSERVATIVES FUND $5,000 $5,000
PROSPERITY ACTION INC. $5,000 $5,000
MINNESOTA - BACHMANN VICTORY COMMITTEE $5,000 $5,000
ALTSCHULER, RANDOLPH MRVIA RANDY ALTSCHULER FOR CONGRESS $5,000 $5,000
SCHUMER, CHARLESVIA FRIENDS OF SCHUMER $4,800 $4,800
JENKINS, LOUIS VIA WOODY JENKINS FOR CONGRESS $4,600 $4,600
HACKETT, CHRISTOPHER VIA CHRIS HACKETT FOR CONGRESS $4,600 $4,600
PEARCE, STEVE VIA PEOPLE FOR PEARCE $4,600 $4,600
SCHAFFER, ROBERTVIA BOB SCHAFFER FOR US SENATE $4,600 $4,600
WALBERG, TIMOTHY L HONVIAWALBERG FOR CONGRESS $4,400 $4,400
MCGAVICK, MICHAEL SEAN VIA FRIENDS FOR MIKE MCGAVICK $4,200 $4,200
CITIZENS CLUB FOR GROWTH INC $4,000 $4,000
GRASSLEY, CHARLES E SENATOR VIAGRASSLEY COMMITTEE INC $4,000 $4,000
COLORADO REPUBLICAN COMMITTEE $3,333 $3,333
BROWN, SAKIMAVIA SAKIMA FOR CONGRESS $2,700 $2,700
STUTZMAN, MARLINVIA STUTZMAN FOR SENATE $2,700 $2,700
GUILLORY, ELBERT VIA ELBERT GUILLORY FOR AMERICA $2,700 $2,700
GERSON, DAVID ADAM VIA GERSON FOR CONGRESS $2,700 $2,700
BRANNON, GREGORY JOSEPH VIA BRANNON FOR US SENATE $2,700 $2,700
ROGERS, WENDYVIAWENDYROGERS.ORG $2,700 $2,700
FIORINA, CARLY VIA CARLY FOR PRESIDENT $2,700 $2,700
REHBERG, DENNIS RAY VIA MONTANANS FOR REHBERG $2,700 $2,700
JINDAL, BOBBY VIA JINDAL FOR PRESIDENT $2,700 $2,700
BROUN, PAUL COLLINS VIA PAUL BROUN COMMITTEE $2,600 $2,600
SMITH, BRYAN VIA BRYAN SMITH FOR CONGRESS INC $2,600 $2,600
LOVE, MIA VIA FRIENDS OF MIA LOVE $2,600 $2,600
BARR, BOB VIA BARR CONGRESS INC. $2,600 $2,600
COTTON, THOMAS VIA COTTON FOR SENATE $2,600 $2,600
MCDANIEL, CHRISTOPHER BRIAN VIA FRIENDS OF CHRIS MCDANIEL $2,600 $2,600
STEFANIK, ELISE M. VIA ELISE FOR CONGRESS $2,600 $2,600
ROUNDS, MIKE VIA ROUNDS FOR SENATE $2,600 $2,600
BROWN, SCOTT VIA STRONG COUNTRY FOR TODAY AND TOMORROW (SCOTTPAC) $2,600 $2,600
MATHIS, CHAD DR VIA DR CHAD MATHIS FOR CONGRESS $2,600 $2,600
NEUMANN, MARK W VIA FRIENDS OF MARK NEUMANN INC $2,500 $2,500
KING, STEVE MRVIA KING FOR CONGRESS $2,500 $2,500
FLAKE, JEFF VIAJEFF FLAKE FOR US SENATE INC $2,500 $2,500
ROBINSON, ART DR. VIA ART ROBINSON FOR CONGRESS $2,500 $2,500
WEST, ALLEN B MRVIA DEEP STRIKE PAC $2,500 $2,500
GRAVES, JOHN THOMAS MR. JRVIA GRAVES FOR CONGRESS $2,400 $2,400
VITTER, DAVID B VIA DAVID VITTER FOR US SENATE $2,400 $2,400
GRAVES, JOHN THOMAS MR. JRVIA GRAVES FOR CONGRESS $2,400 $2,400
CALVEY, KEVIN VIA CALVEY FOR CONGRESS 2010 $2,400 $2,400
WALSH, DANA VIA DANA WALSH FOR CONGRESS $2,400 $2,400
SIMMONS, ROBERTVIA SIMMONS FOR SENATE $2,400 $2,400
SCOTT, TIMOTHY VIA TIM SCOTT FOR CONGRESS $2,400 $2,400
KOZAK, CHARLES CHUCK VIA CHUCK KOZAK FOR U. S. SENATE $2,400 $2,400
HOFFMAN, DOUGLAS L. MRVIA DOUG HOFFMAN FOR CONGRESS $2,400 $2,400
HUELSKAMP, TIMOTHY A REPRESENTA VIA KANSANS FOR HUELSKAMP $2,400 $2,400
TIAHRT, TODD VIA KANSANS FOR TIAHRT $2,376 $2,376
HARRIS, ANDREW P VIA ANDY HARRIS FOR CONGRESS $2,300 $2,300
ROSS, CHARLES EDWIN VIA CHARLIE ROSS FOR CONGRESS $2,300 $2,300
BROUN, PAUL COLLINS VIA PAUL BROUN COMMITTEE $2,300 $2,300
PARNELL, SEAN VIA SEAN PARNELL FOR CONGRESS $2,300 $2,300
BUEHRER, STEVE VIA STEVE BUEHRER FOR CONGRESS $2,300 $2,300
THOMPSON, FRED DALTON VIA FRED THOMPSON POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $2,300 $2,300
ONDER, ROBERT FRANK JR VIA ONDER FOR CONGRESS $2,300 $2,300
GARD, JOHNVIA GARD FOR CONGRESS $2,100 $2,100
ANGLE, SHARRON E VIA SHARRON ANGLE YOUR VOICE IN CONGRESS $2,100 $2,100
KYL, JONVIA ARIZONA FUND $2,100 $2,100
BOUCHARD, MICHAELVIA BOUCHARD FOR US SENATE $2,100 $2,100
WHALEN, MICHAEL LOUIS VIA WHALEN FOR CONGRESS $2,100 $2,100
ODONNELL, RICK VIA COLORADANS FOR RICK ODONNELL $2,100 $2,100
SALI, WILLIAM T. VIA SALI FOR CONGRESS $2,100 $2,100
STEELE, MICHAEL VIA STEELE FOR MARYLAND INC $2,100 $2,100
CHOCOLA, J CHRISTOPHER VIA CHOCOLA FOR CONGRESS INC. $2,100 $2,100
SMITH, ADRIAN VIA ADRIAN SMITH FOR CONGRESS $2,100 $2,100
BUSH, GEORGEVIA BUSH-CHENEY '04 (PRIMARY) INC $2,000 $2,000
CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $2,000 $2,000
BUSH, GEORGEVIA BUSH-CHENEY '04 COMPLIANCE COMMITTEE INC. $2,000 $2,000
DODD, CHRISTOPHER J VIA CHRIS DODD FOR PRESIDENT INC $1,700 $1,700
GIULIANI, RUDOLPHVIA FRIENDS OF GIULIANI EXPLORATORY COMMITTEE $1,000 $1,000
OPPORTUNITY AND RESPONSIBILITY RESTORED IN OUR NATION PAC $1,000 $1,000
MOURDOCK, RICHARD E VIA HOOSIERS FOR RICHARD MOURDOCK INC $1,000 $1,000
LAZIO, RICKVIALAZIO 2000 INC $1,000 $1,000
MCCONNELL, JONATHAN EDWARD VIA FRIENDS OF JONATHAN MCCONNELL -$2,700 -$2,700
Grand Total $419,333 $1,408,476 $1,827,809

Stance on Climate Change

1993

While Robert Mercer doesn't have a formal statement on his view on climate change, he has funded known climate change denier Art Robinson and his work, as well as prominent climate change denial groups including The Heartland Institute[9]

Jane Mayer wrote that in 1993, Nick Patterson, a former colleague of Mercer's at Renaissance technologies (now a computational biologist at the Broad Institute), said that they differed in opinion over climate change. When Patterson shared a scientific paper on the suject, Mercer responded with one from Art Robinson: [28]

It looked like a scientific paper, but it was completely loaded with selective and biased information,” Patterson told Mayer. The paper argued that, if climate change were real, future generations would “enjoy an Earth with far more plant and animal life.”  [28]

When Patterson sent Mercer a note in response, calling Robinson’s arguments “completely false,” He never heard back. “I think if you studied Bob’s views of what the ideal state would look like, you’d find that, basically, he wants a system where the state just gets out of the way,” Patterson said. “Climate change poses a problem for that world view, because markets can’t solve it on their own.” [28]

Climate Change Denial Funding

A DeSmog analysis found that, collectively, the Mercers have given at least $22 million to organizations that promote climate science denial while blocking moves to cut greenhouse gas emissions.  Before backing Donald Trump, the Mercers financially backed Senator Ted Cruz, who made climate science denial a main feature of his speeches. [17][16]

The Mercers have also reportedly invested in Breitbart, a news source that regularly calls climate change a hoax. Breitbart's former chief, Steve Bannon, was also picked by Trump to fill the role of chief strategist. [16]

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. [16]

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. [16]

The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research is another group receiving funding from the Mercers, having donations exceeding $1 million since 2011. [16]

The Heritage Foundation is another organization that regularly promoted skepticism of mainstream climate change science. Rebekah Mercer is also 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. [16], [18], [19]

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. [16]

Key Quotes

Robert Mercer rarely addresses the media. “I don't usually talk about myself so it's not a comfortable thing,” he said at a speech in Baltimore to accept a lifetime achievement award from the Association for Computational Linguistics. [10]

Mercer, who had formerly worked writing programs at the Kirtland Air Force Base's weapons lab, said the job gave him a poor impression of government-funded research:

“One of the most important goals of government-financed research is not so much to get answers as it is to consume the computer budget,” he said in the speech. “[It] left me ever since with a jaundiced view of government-financed research.”

Key Deeds

November 2017

The “Paradise Papers,” a trove of millions of leaked documents reviewed by The Guardian, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, and others, revealed how Robert Mercer used offshore investment accounts to shield investments made by the Mercer Family Foundation—which helped the Mercers build a $60m war chest for conservative causes—while legally avoiding US taxes. [40]

Mercer was director of eight Bermuda companies listed in the papers. The Guardian outlined how the Bermuda companies “appear to have been used to legally avoid a little-known US tax of up to 39% on tens of millions of dollars in investment profits amassed by the Mercer family’s foundation, which funded Bannon’s book [Clinton Cash] and a who’s who of conservative groups, along with a $475m retirement fund for the staff of Mercer’s hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies.”  [40]

The Paradise Papers suggest that the Mercer Foundation, which has used its investments in Mercer's Renaissance Technologies to fund its operations, was able to avoid paying unrelated business income tax (UBIT) by routing investments through an offshore company. While Renaissance Technologies's main fund is based in the U.S. it also maintained “feeder funds” in Bermuda, registered to the office of Appleby, a legal and financial services firm. [40]

The UBIT is a tax designed to prevent nonprofits from competing unfairly with regular businesses, and only applies to investments financed by debt. However, nonprofits can legally route investments through an offshore company known as a “blocker.” The Mercer Family Foundation's public IRS filings confirm it has never paid UBIT.  [40]

The Bermuda-based Medallion Capital Investments was set up to accept investments from American charities or foundations “closely affiliated with an owner or employee” of Renaissance. 2004 and 2005 IRS forms confirmed that the Mercer Family Foundation had sent month through Medallion Capital Investments, suggesting that it was operating as a blocker for the foundation. [40]

November 2, 2017

In an effort to distance himself from growing controversy regarding his funding of Breitbart News, which inspired a campaign urging universities and pension funds to divest from Renaissance Technologies, Mercer announced that he would step down as co-chief executive officer of the hedge fund, effective January 1, 2018, and also sell his stake in Breitbart News to his daughters. Mercer added that he does not plan to retire but would relinquish management responsibilities while Peter Brown would continue on as CEO[34], [36][35]

According to The Atlantic, sources familiar with the Mercer's situation said that the letter did not mean that Mercer would be retreating from politics. [34]

In a letter to staff at Renaissance, Mercer said that after being the object of “great scrutiny from the press” we wanted to correct one of the “many mischaracterizations made of me”: [37]

”[…] the most repugnant [of those mischaracterizations] to me have been the intimations that I am a white supremacist or a member of some other noxious group. Discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, creed, or anything of that sort is abhorrent to me. But more than that, it is ignorant,” Mercer said in the letter.  [37]

Mercer said his decision to sell his stake in Breitbart was “for personal reasons.” He also clarified that his views didn't always align with Steve Bannon's:  [37]

“The press has also intimated that my politics marches in lockstep with Steve Bannon's. I have great respect for Mr. Bannon, and from time to time I do discuss politics with him. However, I make my own decisions with respect to whom I support politically. Those decisions do not always align with Mr. Bannon's.”  [37]

Mercer also distanced himself from former Breitbart tech editor and writer Milo Yiannopoulos, who Mercer said had caused pain and divisiveness”:  [37]

“I supported Milo Yiannopoulos in the hope and expectation that his expression of views contrary to the social mainstream and his spotlighting of the hypocrisy of those who would close down free speech in the name of political correctness would promote the type of open debate and freedom of thought that is being throttled on many American college campuses today. But in my opinion, actions of and statements by Mr. Yiannopoulos have caused pain and divisiveness undermining the open and productive discourse that I had hoped to facilitate. I was mistaken to have supported him, and for several weeks have been in the process of severing all ties with him.” [37]

In October 2017, a collection of leaked emails obtained by Buzzfeed News suggested ties between Yiannopoulos and white-nationalist figures. The Buzzfeed News article said that emails showed that Steve Bannon had invited Yiannopoulos to Cannes for a week to “discuss tv and film” and “hang on the boat.” The boat was the Mercer's 200-foot yacht, the Sea Owl. The Mercers were in Cannes at the time to promote Clinton Casha film produced by both Rebekah Mercer and Bannon. [39][38]

May 24, 2017

Robert Mercer contributed $150,000 to the “Massachusetts First” super PAC, Federal Election Commission (FEC) data shows. Politico reported that this previously unknown super PAC began running radio ads against Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in June. [32]

According to Politico, Mercer's donations matched the amount needed to fund the ads, which cost around $150,000. It was also Mercer's largest donation at that point in the year, according to the FEC data. [33]

In addition to Massachusetts First, other groups targeting Warren including the pro-Trump America First Policies (the political nonprofit connected to the America First Action superPAC) as well as America Rising, which already announced campaigns against both Warren and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. [33]

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. [30], [31]

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. [20], [21]

February, 2017

2014 tax filings for Mercer’s family foundation revealed that the foundation was a major donor of work by Richard Muller, a University of California physics professor who initially founded the Berkeley Earth project. The project set out to conduct an independent review of global warming data, and was initially funded by Charles Koch. Mercer Family Foundation’s 2014 tax return listed a donation of $250,000 to the project, as Bloomberg reported. [22], [23]

To many’s surprise, Muller’s project confirmed (PDF) what the majority of climate scientists had already found related to changing climate. After announcing the findings in The New York Times in 2012, calling it a “total turnaround,” Mueller declared himself as a “converted skeptic.” [24], [25]

Connor Gibson, a researcher at the environmentalist group Greenpeace, said he was “thoroughly confused” by the development that Robert Mercer’s foundation was a major backer of Muller’s research. [23]

However, Bloomberg noted that since his “conversion,” Muller has endorsed fracking. According to his website, Muller's second-biggest funder in 2014 was America's Natural Gas Alliance, at $200,000.  [23]

In an interview, Muller said he meets regularly with Mercer to discuss the group's research. “Never has he ever criticized anything that we've published or done. Never has he indicated any hope for any conclusions we could reach,” Muller said. “He is one of the world's experts at data analysis – that's what he did at his company. And my sense is he felt the data out there – the big data – was not being analyzed properly and that we would do so.” [23]

2016

Robert Mercer and his family have been deeply involved in the Republican nominations, reports The New York Times. [6]

Initially backing Senator Ted Cruz of Texas—with $13 million in donations going to the super PAC supporting Cruz—Mercer later shifted support to Donald Trump after he won the nomination. When Ted Cruz refused to endorse Donald Trump, the Mercers issued a rare public statement where they said they were “profoundly disappointed” in Mr. Cruz. [6]

“Keep the Promise I” which Mercer had used to support Cruz, was revamped into “Make America Number 1,” which also funded a “special project” titled “Defeat Crooked Hillary.” [13][6]

The Mercers basically own this campaign,” a source who had worked with Rebekah Mercer told The Hill. “They have installed their people. … And now they’ve got their data firm in there.” [7]

2010

Robert Mercer funded an Oregon House race to support Republican Arthur Robinson, who was challenging incumbent Representative Peter DeFazio. Mercer had also funded Robinson's skeptical work on climate change Mercer. [9]

DeFazio's campaign ran radio ads saying Robinson was funded by a secretive donor with Wall Street ties:

“Oregon isn't a state that likes outside interference,” DeFazio said. “Once we focused on who Mercer was we began to move our poll numbers.” DeFazio won. This year, Robinson is running again to oust DeFazio, but Mercer hasn't dropped mega-dollars into the race. Robinson declined comment for this story.

Nick Patterson, a former senior Renaissance Technologies employee, described Mercer's views on climate change.  “Most people at Renaissance didn’t challenge him” about politics, Patterson said. Jane Mayer wrote in The New Yorker that Patterson clashed with Mercer over climate change as “Mercer said that concerns about it were overblown.” [28]

When Patterson had shared a scientific paper with Mercer on climate, Mercer and his brother, Randall, responded with a paper from Art Robinson. “It looked like a scientific paper, but it was completely loaded with selective and biased information,” Patterson recalled. The paper argued that, if climate change were real, future generations would “enjoy an Earth with far more plant and animal life.”  Patterson sent Mercer a note calling Robinson’s statements “completely false,” however he never heard back. [28]

In all, the Mercers gave over $640,000 to a group that attacked DeFazio with negative ads. At the time, press speculated that Mercer's opposition was due to a proposed high-volume stock trade tax that would have affected Renaissance Technologies, but severalcolleagues associate his connection with Art Robinson as the reason. [28]

The Mercer Family notably gave over $1.6 million in donations to Robinson’s Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM), some of which went to the purchase of freezers to store 14,000 samples of human urine. [28]

Jane Mayer also wrote that Robinson may be behind mercer's views on nuclear radiation. Robinson co-authored a 1986 book claiming a majority of Americans would be able to survive “an all-out atomic attack on the United States.” Robert and Rebekah Mercer also praised the homeschool curriculum sold by Robinson, which describes public schools as having a “evil” and “socialist” agenda. [28]

Affiliations

Resources

  1. Robert Mercer,” Inside Philanthropy. Archived November 1, 2016. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/M0nxs

  2. Reclusive mega-donor fueling Donald Trump's White House hopes,” The Center for Public Integrity, October 7, 2016. Archived November 1, 2016. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/QhbU1

  3. #18 Robert Mercer,” Forbes. Accessed November 1, 2016. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/ABvhw

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

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

  6. 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

  7. Billionaire father and daughter linked to Trump shake-up,The Hill, July 17, 2016. Archived November 1, 2016. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/JECis

  8. Mercer, Robert L.: Donor Detail,” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed November 1, 2016.

  9. The Man Who Out-Koched the Kochs,” Bloomberg, October 22, 2014. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/YgdZ1

  10. Lawrence Delevingne. “Have Mercer! The money man who helped the GOP win,” CNBC, November 8, 2014. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/hQFsq

  11. A hedge fund house divided: Renaissance Technologies,” Opensecrets, June 7, 2016. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/iEtSO

  12. Ade Adeniji. “Meet the New Best Friend of Conservative Policy Groups: Robert Mercer,” Inside Philanthropy, April 14, 2015. Archived November 1, 2016. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/VrGRP

  13. Homepage, Defeat Crooked Hillary. Archived December 4, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/uvqWe

  14. Joshua Green and Zachary Mider. “New Super-PAC Launches for Donors Who Won't Back Trump But Loathe Clinton,” Bloomberg, June 21, 2016. Archived November 1, 2016. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/qcEDG

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

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

  17. Graham Readfearn. “Checking Ted Cruz's climate science denial howlers,” The Guardian, February 10, 2016. Archived February 16, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/awv8a 

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

  19. 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

  20. 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

  21. 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.

  22. 990-PF Return of Private Foundation: MERCER FAMILY FOUNDATION For calendar year 2014, or tax year beginning 01-01-2014, and ending 12-31-2014 “ (PDF), Retrieved from DocumentCloud.

  23. Zachary Mider. “Mercer, a Longtime Funder of Climate Skeptics, Backs a Believer,” Bloomberg, February 22, 2016. Archived March 6, 2017. Archive.is URL:https://archive.is/aDteI

  24. STATEMENT TO THE COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, SPACE AND TECHNOLOGY OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES” (PDF), Berkely Earth, March 31, 2011. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  25. Richard A. Muller. “The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic,” The New York Times, July 28, 2012. Archived March 6, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/CNkxr

  26. Matea Gold and Frances Stead Sellers. “After working for Trump’s campaign, British data firm eyes new U.S. government contracts,” The Washington Post, February 17, 2017. Archived March 8, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/lUibd

  27. Michael Kranish. “Trump’s plan for a comeback includes building a ‘psychographic’ profile of every voter,” The Washington Post, October 27, 2016. Archived March 8, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/EYVr3

  28. Jane Mayer. “THE RECLUSIVE HEDGE-FUND TYCOON BEHIND THE TRUMP PRESIDENCY,” The New Yorker, March 20, 2017. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/l8Mlh

  29. Joseph N. DiStefano. “When a hedge fund billionaire 'buys' democracy: Magerman on Mercer,” The Inquirer, March 1, 2017. Archived March 22, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/Ax1La 

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

  31. 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

  32. Receipts,” Federal Election Commission. Accessed September 19, 2017.

  33. Trump's team gunning for potential 2020 reelection rivals,” Politico, September 18, 2017. Archived September 19, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/lVptU

  34. The Mercers Wash Their Hands of Milo,” The Atlantic, November 2, 2017. Archived November 3, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/tzcq9

  35. Janet Lorin and Katherine Burton. “RenTech’s Robert Mercer to Exit as Co-CEO, Sell Breitbart Stake,” Bloomberg, November 2, 2017. Archived November 3, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/UY7Nx

  36. Zachary Mider. “Mercer's Backing of Breitbart Draws Campaign Against Renaissance,” Bloomberg, October 24, 2017. Archived November 3, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/74KBt

  37. Robert Mercer. “Dear Colleagues” (PDF), November 2, 2017. Retrieved from Bloomberg News.

  38. About the Film,” Clinton Cash. Archived November 3, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/3H5OS

  39. Here's How Breitbart And Milo Smuggled Nazi and White Nationalist Ideas Into The Mainstream,” Buzzfeed News, October 5, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/pUH7N

  40. Jon Swaine. “Offshore cash helped fund Steve Bannon's attacks on Hillary Clinton,” The Guardian, November 7, 2017. Archived November 7, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/df1bt

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