Robert Mercer family gave nearly $20 million to dark money GOP fund during 2020 election
The wealthy family led by conservative megadonors Robert and Rebekah Mercer, whose money helped propel Donald Trump to victory in 2016, invested nearly $20 million last year into a GOP-friendly dark money fund that allows donors to keep secret the ultimate destination of their contributions.
A new 990 disclosure form shows that the Mercers gave their donation through their family foundation. It went to Donors Trust. This substantial contribution reveals that the Mercers had a greater role than ever in funding groups during the 2020 elections.
Donors Trust receives money and then funnels it to the groups it chooses. Legally, it isn’t required to make public disclosures about who or what specific financial institutions are giving the money to which group.
It’s not clear from the Donors Trust where the money came from. According to the 990 form, the Mercer Family Foundation ended the year with assets worth just over $45 million.
Some recent contributions to the Donors Trust have gone toward groups that pushed claims of election fraud before and after President Joe Biden defeated Trump in last year’s election. In 2019, the Donors Trust, sent donations to groups such as Turning Point USA, which is led by vocal Trump supporter Charlie Kirk; and the VDARE Foundation, which the Southern Poverty Law Center labeled a hate group.
Trump had warned before the 2020 election that there was a risk of voter fraud. Trump continued falsely claiming that the election was his own. Officials from both sides of the political spectrum, including former Trump Attorney General William Barr, have said there was no widespread voter fraud and Biden won the election fair and square.
Robert Mercer is the director of their family foundation, along with his three daughters Jennifer, Jennifer, Heather. In the buildup to the election, CNBC reported that the Mercers had opted to distance themselves from Trump and Republican leadership after they were scrutinized for helping to bankroll the New York real estate magnate and reality TV star’s successful run for president in 2016.
Last election cycle, the Mercers contributed very little to political campaigns. According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics (a nonpartisan research organization), neither Robert Mercer nor Rebekah Mercer, who are two of the largest GOP donors, did not make it into the Top 100 Political Donors for the 2019-2020 period.
The Mercers made a significant contribution to 2020’s Donors Trust. This 501(c),(3) organization allows them to donate without the need to reveal which organizations they supported that year.
Rebekah Mercer is a key financier for Parler, a social media company that has been an outlet for Trump allies to push false claims that the election was rigged against the former president.
Rebekah Mercer’s representatives and Robert Mercer didn’t respond to our requests for comment.
2019 saw the Donors Trust raise more than $300M and distribute just under $160 Million in grants. According to a spokesperson for the organization, 2020 forms of the Donors Trust won’t become available until the end of the year.
Records show that the Mercer foundation’s 2020 contribution to the Donors Trust is its largest donation through its nonprofit since at least 2016, when it give a similar amount to various conservative outside groups.
Last year, outside of the donation to the Donors Trust, the new 990 form shows that the only other contribution the foundation made was $9,000 to the American Association for Aerosol Research, a nonprofit that touts sponsors such as NASA and 3M.
You can also see the Mercers personal financial records in the new 990.
The disclosure states that the Foundation made at most $30 million on assets transactions through an entity named the Medallion fund. Robert Mercer stepped down in 2017 from being co-CEO of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, which has a fund with an identical name.
Institutional Investor reported earlier this year that Renaissance Technologies’ Medallion fund had one of its best years ever in 2020, surging 76%. According to the news source, only current and ex-employees of Renaissance Technologies can access the Medallion Fund.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that current and former executives at Renaissance Technologies, including Robert Mercer, will pay as much as $7 billion in back taxes, penalties and interest to settle a dispute with the Internal Revenue Service.