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Wealthy Mercer family dramatically scaled back giving to conservative causes in buildup to 2020

  • November 25, 2020

In the buildup to the 2020 election, the family led by financier Robert Mercer cut back on investments into conservative causes it has bankrolled over the last five years.

The shift came as Mercer began to distance himself from President Donald Trump and larger parts of the Republican Party. Mercer, who was once the co-CEO of hedge fund giant Renaissance Technologies, and his daughter Rebekah gave very little to Trump’s bid for reelection, after acting as some of his top financial supporters during the 2016 election.

The Mercer Family Foundation donated just over $1.4 million to outside causes, with the majority going to the dark-money group known as the Donors Trust, according to the nonprofit’s new 2019 tax return. Nonprofit 990 returns are released a year after their coverage dates, and the information from the foundation’s new tax return had yet to be reported.

The two Mercers are listed as directors for the foundation. Robert Mercer’s two other daughters, Jennifer and Heather, are also labeled as directors.

That $1.4 million represents over a 90% drop in contributions from the Mercer family compared with the year prior. In 2018, the family foundation gave just over $12 million to often conservative organizations, including $500,000 to the Government Accountability Institute, or GAI, a think tank founded by conservative investigator Peter Schweizer and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. 

A representative for both Robert and Rebekah Mercer did not respond to a request for comment.

It’s not as if the family didn’t have the money to finance conservative organizations that were looking to make an impact during the two-year 2020 election cycle. The disclosure for 2020 itself won’t be released until next year.

Their latest 990 disclosure shows that, as of last year, the foundation’s fair market value of all its assets was nearly $35 million. Robert Mercer himself was the sole donor to the foundation in 2019, contributing over $2 million. The year prior, the assets were worth at least $24 million.

The cutback in the family’s overall role in donating to such groups suggests that much of Rebekah Mercer’s funds are going toward Parler, a social media company that claims to embrace free speech and has attracted a slew of leading conservatives.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Mercer was the lead investor in the company.

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