Robert Mercer, the billionaire hedge fund magnate and prominent backer of President Trump’s first bid for the White House, has made his first six-figure donation to Trump’s reelection after retreating from financially supporting him, a new filing shows.
Mercer gave sporadically to congressional and Senate candidates and political groups in the 2018 campaign, but had not donated to Trump’s reelection effort amid a falling-out with former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon and controversy over Cambridge Analytica, a Mercer-funded data-science firm hired by Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Cambridge Analytica was shuttered after the company’s former employees disclosed efforts to collect troves of Facebook data to build detailed profiles of millions of American voters. The Mercer family and Bannon launched the firm in an effort to give conservatives an edge in the political data game.
Through a spokesman, Mercer declined to comment on his donation. The Trump campaign and the RNC did not respond to a request for comment.
Thanks in part to donations from wealthy conservative backers like Mercer, the Trump campaign has gained a massive financial lead as the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, begins shifting his focus to the general election.
The Trump campaign, the RNC and the two joint fundraising committees, Trump Victory and Trump Make America Great Again, have raised more than $1 billion toward the president’s reelection, including $212 million in the first three months of 2020, and entered April with $226 million in cash on hand, according to campaign finance filings made public Wednesday.
In comparison, President Barack Obama, the Democratic Party and their joint fundraising operation raised about $127 million in the first quarter of 2012, according to data from the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute.
Biden has raised at least $121 million so far, and spent the majority of it campaigning for the Democratic nomination.
Biden, as the presumptive Democratic nominee, can strike an agreement with the Democratic National Committee to jointly raise money for the general-election campaign and close the money gap with Trump and the RNC. By this point in the 2012 campaign, presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney had begun his own joint fundraising operation. DNC and campaign officials said Monday that they do not yet have official plans for one.
Other notable major donors to Trump Victory in the first three months of 2020 included hotel magnate Sheldon Adelson and his physician wife, Miriam, ($1.2 million); Jeffrey Sprecher, chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, and his wife, Kelly Loeffler, a Republican U.S. senator from Georgia ($580,600); Wisconsin billionaire Diane Hendricks ($575,000); and Steve Wynn, the former casino owner who resigned as Wynn Resorts chairman and RNC finance chairman amid allegations of sexual misconduct ($468,500).
America First Action, the main super PAC supporting Trump, received $9.4 million in the first quarter of the year, new disclosures filed Wednesday show.
Among major donors to the super PAC so far in 2020 were Trump’s longtime friend and major GOP financier Stephen Schwarzman, the chief executive of private-equity firm Blackstone Group ($3 million); Trump friend and real estate developer Geoffrey Palmer ($2 million); and investment banker Warren Stephens ($1 million).
The super PAC had $18 million in cash entering April, new filings show. Along with its nonprofit arm, America First Policies, the two groups raised in actual donations or in pledged donations $136.3 million for the 2020 campaign, Brian O. Walsh, president of America First Action, wrote in a memo Wednesday.
As part of their 2020 spending, the America First groups have reserved $26.6 million in ads to run in Florida and North Carolina from Labor Day to Election Day, Walsh wrote.
America First Action is launching an anti-Biden television and digital ad campaign for $10 million in the swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania starting Friday through May, Walsh wrote.