Ela Gonca Izmirli, Washington Hatti USHere is the second installation of Robert Mercer cobweb of connections behind the Trump presidency. First installation can be found here:
Only one of Mercer’s co-workers accepted to talk to the Wall Street Journal for an article they were doing about the eccentric hedge fund billionaire; David M. Magerman. Reportedly Magerman was suspended from his jobs for 30 days without pay after the publication of the article. Magerman later sent an op-ed on philly.com to clarify his message further.
Magerman claimed that Mercer is an “extreme example of modern entrepreneurial philanthropy.” In the same op-ed, he argued that Mercer effectively bought a share of the United States presidency.
If indeed Mercer purchased a share of the US presidency, this was enabled by the United States Supreme Court’s “The Citizens United” ruling. Released in January 2010, the Supreme Court decision made independent expenditures and financing electioneering communications legal; giving corporations, and unions the permission to spend a practically unlimited amount of money on political ads and other political tools during an election.
According to figures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, in the 2011-2012 election cycle, super PACs spent $378 million. The same group following the 2016 election published that during the most recent election cycle 2,394 super PACs spent $1,064,770,874.
Robert Mercer, one of the wealthiest, influential and reactionary Republicans in the United States, was one of the top ten donors during this election cycle, spending more than $22,000,000 on conservative candidates. Known for being a man of few words, Mercer was not always as wealthy as he is right now. He comes from a middle-class family, Mercer was obsessed with computers from an early age. He worked for IBM for decades, helped build the technology that IBM used to create Watson super-computer. He also helped Apple form the basis for Siri platform.
Some of the technology that is part of Watson can create virtual agents across mobile devices and messaging platforms to create natural conversations between bots and real people. The technology is built to understand a user’s tone, personality, and emotions. The particular part of Watson that Mercer worked on was called Brown clustering; a class-based language model where probabilities of words used are based on the classes (clusters) of previous words. Cambridge Analytica claims to have a similar model to mine online data to reach and influence voters.
In 1993 Robert Mercer started working at Renaissance Technologies. He was hired to adapt his technique of extracting patterns from data to the global stock markets. When Mercer started working at Renaissance Technologies, the firm’s equities division was lagging behind other areas. It took Mercer and his team a few years but eventually became the fund’s most profitable branch. Their secret formula took account of every conceivable predictor in the markets.
Medallion Fund, a portfolio of Renaissance Capital, is considered one of the most successful hedge funds. It averaged a 71.8% annual return, from 1994 through mid-2014. The fund is closed to outside investors since 1993 and is available only to current and past 300 or so employees, most of them scientists and researchers. The quant hedge fund produced $55 billion in profits over the last 28 years.
Just like his wealth, Mercer’s philanthropic largesse came late in life. After the US Supreme Court’s 2010 decision, Mercer was one of the first to start his own PAC to support research chemist Arthur Robinson’s run for Congress in Oregon. Funded by private donors, Robinson claims his work with human urine can extend human life. According to his monthly internet newsletter, climate change is a hoax, and nuclear radiation is safe for humans. Despite Mercer’s support, Robinson did not win the election.
Mercer also through his PACs supported a campaign for the death penalty in Nebraska. He and his daughter Rebekah directed money to anti-abortion groups. He helped publish a book critical of Hillary Clinton, bankrolled a documentary celebrating Ayn Rand, and funded groups that attacked the science behind global warming.
A surprising amount of Mercer’s money finds it’s ways to the most unusual fringes of the right wing conspiracies; it was reported that he funded and attended a conference organized by Jane Orient, an Arizona activist who recently suggested that the elements of the U.S. government might have taken part in the San Bernardino massacre. He also funded Fred Kelly Grant, who claims the environmental laws are a sinister plan by the UN to depopulate rural America.
Another event that Mercer supported and joined was for a group called Doctors for Disaster Preparedness. Breitbart News covered the event that had one speaker who warned the audience that the aim of A.C.A was to collapse the US healthcare system and advised stockpiling medications. Another speaker argued that HIV is not the reason of AIDS but a cover-up of the health risks of homosexuality. An anti-climate think-tank that received $4,000,000 from Mercer sent its science director to the conference to present their plan to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency.
Despite making most of his money from hedge transactions, it also appears that Mercer supports groups advocating for a return to the gold standard. According to associates of Robert Mercer, Mercer was the main financial backer of the Jackson Hole Summit in 2015. Through American Principles Project, Mercer funded an alternative Jackson Hole Summit to the Federal Reserve summit to advocate for a return to the gold standard and to end the government involvement in the money supply. He is also known to be a passionate critic of fractional reserve banking, the core of modern financial systems. Mercer’s fund leverages assets up to 20 times the original value- the legal limit is 2 – using giant banks like Deutsche Bank.
According to media reports, Mercer’s daughter Rebekah, who was part of the Trump transition team advocated for Jeff Sessions and Michael Flynn. Both men got the jobs she picked for them. Rebekah was against naming Mitt Romney secretary of state. Romney did not get the job. She wanted Bannon to be named the Chief-of-Staff. Bannon didn’t want the job but was appointed chief strategist instead. During the campaign, Rebekah was instrumental in the firing of Paul Manafort as trump campaign manager. Steve Bannon and Maryann Conway was hired to the Trump campaign after she got involved in the campaign.
The Mercer’s hold tremendous influence over President Trump. They have a stake in Breitbart News, which holds sway over Mr. Trump’s base. The family owns Cambridge Analytica which according to some may hold the secret to the ‘magic formula’ that carried Trump to the presidency. The family showed that they are willing to pour in millions of dollars to support their candidate of choice.
Some early Trump decisions point to Mercer’s being more influential in Trump administration than what has been reported.