The Mercers, Republican donors, are considering backing Trump while maintaining a massive war chest
Robert Mercer and Rebecca Mercer attend the 2017 TIME 100 Gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 25, 2017 in New York City.
Shawn Zani | Patrick McMullan | Getty Images
One of the Republican Party’s most influential families may come out of the sidelines to financially support Donald Trump’s latest run for the White House, after years of distancing itself from him, according to people familiar with the matter.
Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebecca have not yet made a final decision on whether they will publicly support Trump, these people said. But the Mercer family remains friendly with key players in Trump’s orbit, including former senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, according to some of the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of the Mercer family’s notoriously private thinking.
The Mercers have given millions to the Super PAC and other efforts to boost it Trump card in 2016, before declining significantly in 2018.
A representative for the Mercer family did not respond to a request for comment.
As they weigh their options on whether to get involved in helping Trump again, the Mercers have a practically unparalleled private war chest ready to be deployed.
The Mercer family entered the pivotal 2024 presidential election cycle with just over $88 million stashed in their own nonprofit, the Mercer Family Foundation.
If they decide to fund efforts to support Trump, as they did during the 2016 election, that money could provide important resources for influential conservative political causes, according to experts who reviewed the documents.
“The Mercer Family Foundation has a huge endowment that can — and likely will — be directed toward pushing policy to the far right,” Brendan Fisher, deputy executive director at the documented special interests watchdog, told CNBC after he reviewed the foundation. Group 990 tax return
The $88.4 million the foundation raised at the end of 2022 was due in part to the sale of more than $20 million in publicly traded securities and other property last year, according to 990 tax forms reviewed by CNBC. Its cash flow through 2023 was down slightly from the previous year, as the foundation started last year with just over $96 million.
Robert Mercer, who was co-CEO of hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, donated just over $6 million to the foundation in 2021, according to the group’s tax records from that year. Although the foundation is funded solely by the Mercer family, there have been no donations made by the family to the organization in the past year, according to new documents.
The Mercers have a history of supporting conservative causes, including becoming part-owner of the conservative news site Breitbart.
While the Mercers have largely disappeared from public view since helping Trump win in 2016, they have continued to try to exert influence in Republican political circles with their money, including through the family foundation.
Last year, they gave $31 million to DonorsTrust, a 501(c)(3) donor-advised fund that funnels money to often right-leaning causes on behalf of its clients. This was the largest amount the Mercer Family Foundation has ever recorded for any group through its charitable organization, according to data from ProPublica database.
Rebecca Mercer was an investor in the now-shuttered Parler, which was supposed to be a social media space for conservative voices.
She is also a co-founder and investor in 1789 Capital, a financial firm run by Wall Street veteran Omid Malik that led a $15 million seed round in a new media company owned by former Fox News host Tucker Carlson and his longtime business partner Neil. Patel, according to New York Post And the Wall Street Journal.
Rebekah Mercer is also part of a coalition of Republican donors called the Rockbridge Network, which includes fellow GOP funder Peter Thiel, according to New York times.
Billionaires Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebecca attend the 12th International Conference on Climate Change hosted by the Heartland Institute on March 23, 2017 in Washington, D.C.
Oliver Contreras | The Washington Post | Getty Images
Experts who have reviewed tax documents say a family can donate as much of its foundation’s assets as it wants to organizations with a political focus that could influence the upcoming election.
Shana Ports, senior legal counsel for the watchdog Campaign Legal Center, told CNBC in a statement after the 990 review that although 501(c)(3) charities are prohibited from “directly interfering in elections or supporting candidates,” such organizations “It can still engage in a range of activities that influence the election.”
This includes funding voter registration and get-out-the-vote campaigns, funding litigation efforts, taking positions on public policy issues, making contributions to fund polling committees or assisting with programs run by more politically involved nonprofit groups that do not have to list names. Their donors are public, according to the ports.
“A charity like the Mercer Family Foundation, which has more than $88 million at its disposal, could have a significant impact on the 2024 election by engaging in this type of activity,” Portes told CNBC.
For example, DonorsTrust contributors funnel their money to desired causes, without the public ever knowing the original source of the funds because it does not publicly disclose the names of its donors. The conservative-leaning FreedomWorks, State Policy Network, Constitutional Defense Fund, and Project Veritas all received money last year through DonorsTrust, according to Reuters. Center for Media and Democracy.
In 2021, the Mercer family donated just under $6 million to DonorsTrust, according to its tax records from that year. In 2020, a pivotal election year that saw Joe Biden defeat Trump, the Mercer Foundation gave about $20 million to DonorsTrust.
DonorsTrust raised more than $300 million last year and listed an anonymous contribution of $31 million on its 2022 990 forms, which could come from the Mercer family. It’s the third-highest donation listed in DonorsTrust’s most recent tax records.
Some of DonorsTrust’s top recipients in 2022 were the same conservative groups previously funded by the Mercer Foundation. DonorsTrust allocated more than $240 million in grants last year alone, according to its tax records.
Those groups that received millions from DonorsTrust last year include $7.9 million to the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, a nonprofit rebuke The idea that there is man-made climate change. DonorsTrust last year also gave $1.5 million to the Government Accountability Institute, an organization co-founded by longtime Mercer ally Steve Bannon and chaired by Rebekah Mercer herself.
The Government Accountability Institute is responsible for a series of politically motivated investigations. I was involved in the investigations into Hillary and Bill Clinton that led to their murders book Written by the group’s president, Peter Schweizer, and titled “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Corporations Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.”
Don’t miss these stories from CNBC PRO:
This article originally appeared on www.cnbc.com