In a self-published 2015 autobiography, Mellon called social safety net programs “Slavery Redux,” adding: “For delivering their votes in the Federal Elections, they are awarded with yet more and more freebies: food stamps, cell phones, WIC payments, Obamacare, and on, and on, and on. The largess is funded by the hardworking folks, fewer and fewer in number, who are too honest or too proud to allow themselves to sink into this morass.”
Mellon declined to comment.
The Wyoming-based donor, whose family fortune dates to the Gilded Age, gave his first major pro-Trump donation in April, with a $10 million check to America First Action, the main super PAC supporting the president’s reelection. His donations are the biggest known contributions to the group by far, and he is also a top donor to GOP congressional super PACs, according to campaign finance records.
America First Action, a super PAC chaired by Linda McMahon, former head of the Small Business Administration, declined to comment on Mellon’s contribution.
Mellon’s company, Pan Am Systems, declined to comment on Mellon’s donation or support for Trump. The company did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the views expressed in his autobiography, which it described on its website as “a refreshingly candid look into his family life as well as his business successes.”
Mellon, who is the great-grandson of Mellon family patriarch and banker Thomas Mellon, and grandson of Andrew W. Mellon, the former Treasury Department secretary, had given smaller amounts to state and federal GOP candidates for years, but ramped up his giving under Trump, campaign finance records show. His first major federal donation came in May 2018, when he gave $10 million in support of the super PAC that supports the House GOP.
Since February 2018, he has given $40 million to three super PACs, and tens of thousands of dollars more to an array of GOP candidates, records show.
In his autobiography, Mellon wrote that while his family had been Republicans for generations before him, it wasn’t until the presidency of Ronald Reagan that he fully considered himself a Republican. He said Reagan “understood that people did best for themselves when shackled with the least amount of governmental constraints.”
“Something had obviously gone dreadfully wrong with the Great Society and the Liberal onslaught. Poor people had become no less poor. Black people, in spite of heroic efforts by the ‘Establishment’ to right the wrongs of the past, became even more belligerent and unwilling to pitch in to improve their own situations,” Mellon wrote, describing his view of America during Reagan’s 1984 reelection campaign.
He continued: “Drugs rose to the level of epidemic. Single parent families became more and more prevalent. The likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton pandered endlessly to fan the flames.”
Two decades later, too many Americans are still relying on the government for help, he wrote.
Mellon slammed the educational system for becoming beholden to teachers unions, and wrote that “Black Studies, Women’s Studies, LGBT Studies, they have all cluttered Higher Education with a mishmash of meaningless tripe designed to brainwash gullible young adults into going along with the Dependency Syndrome.”
And he blasted media outlets, blaming journalists, particularly at MSNBC, for perpetuating the federal government’s “Dependency Message.”
“It took Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party to deal with the first scourge of slavery. And now it appears that it is again up to the Republican Party to deal with the contemporary counterpart,” he wrote. “The question is: Is the Republican Party up to it this time?”
Mellon is the chairman of New Hampshire-based Pan Am Systems Inc., a privately held transportation and freight holding company whose subsidiaries include Pan Am Railways, a New England rail system, and a wood products manufacturer.
In the 1980s, Mellon took over a rail company called Guilford Transportation Industries and rebranded it after purchasing Pan Am Airways from bankruptcy in the 1990s.
Mellon’s company has publicly praised the GOP-backed 2017 tax overhaul bill, which represented the largest one-time reduction in the corporate tax rate in U.S. history and lowered taxes for the vast majority of Americans.
In May 2018 — the month he made his first donation to the Congressional Leadership Fund, the House GOP super PAC — his company announced it would issue a bonus of $1,100 to each employee because of the tax law.
He gave another $10 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund in November 2019. This year, he gave an additional $10 million to the Senate Leadership Fund, the Senate GOP super PAC.
Even as his political giving has increased, Mellon has maintained a low profile. When officials with the Congressional Leadership Fund invited Mellon to attend a donor retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyo., to express thanks for his 2018 donation and meet with then-House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Mellon declined, according to someone familiar with the invitation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.
“It was all over email, and he didn’t want to meet, and said no to meetings,” said the person familiar with Mellon’s donations, which came in response to an email to major GOP donors, the person said. “He’s very off-the-grid.”
Officials with the Senate Leadership Fund declined to comment. The Congressional Leadership Fund did not respond to requests for comment.
In an unusual move, Mellon has also given donations to two Democrats: $2,700 to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York for her 2018 campaign and $2,800 to Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii for her long-shot bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Gabbard’s office did not respond to a request for comment. Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign spokeswoman, Lauren Hitt, said the campaign did not solicit the donation in 2018 and would return it after an inquiry by The Post.
In the 2016 GOP primaries, Mellon made donations in support of business executive Carly Fiorina and now-Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, before giving $2,700 in total to Trump and the Republican National Committee in the general election, records show.
In 2010, Mellon made headlines as the biggest donor to a legal fund set up by then-Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) to defend Senate Bill 1070, a controversial immigration law that required police to determine the immigration status of people suspected of being in the country illegally, which critics had said would lead to rampant racial profiling. He gave an unsolicited $1.5 million to the fund, according to a person familiar with fundraising who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe donor support.
“We were told by a representative that he was very closely watching current events and was inspired by [Brewer] and her leadership, and engaged on it,” the person said.
Alice Crites contributed to this report.
Correction: A previous version of this report misspelled the name of Guilford Transportation Industries.