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July 4, 2014

Right-Wing Money Man Richard Mellon Scaife Dies at 82

By Rob Kall

a left wing perspective on the death of a right-wing powerhouse who, with his family, gave over $1 billion to right wing causes.


Richard Mellon Scaife, long before the Koch brothers, was one of the most important early contributors to the right wing think tanks and policy advocacy engines of the past 40 years. He has died at the age of 82.

Described by the Washington Post as "the funding father of the right," his death could adversely affect funding for at least dozens of right wing groups, including anti-immigration groups.

Sourcewatch says:
Mellon Scaife, "was a billionaire contributor to the Republican Party and right-wing think tanks, one of the most influential men behind the American conservative movement[1]. Scaife has helped establish their biggest institutions and supported some of their most radical ideas through donations from his Scaife foundations.[2] "

Scaife and his family's charitable foundations have given over a billion dollars to right-wing organzations, resulting in the creation of a vast conservative infrastructure. As the Washington Post reports:

Together these groups constitute a conservative intellectual infrastructure that provided ideas and human talent that helped Ronald Reagan initiate a new Republican era in 1980, and helped Newt Gingrich initiate another one in 1994. Conservative ideas once dismissed as flaky or extreme moved into the mainstream, and as the liberal National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy concluded in a recent report, "The long-standing conservative crusade to discredit government as a vehicle for societal progress has come to fruition as never before."[5]

Among the right-wing organizations substantially funded by Scaife are the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, Judicial Watch, theCato Institute, FreedomWorks, and the American Legislative Exchange Council.[6][7][8]

Mellon Scaife inherited a huge banking oil and aluminum fortune from his mother's Mellon family. His father's family was in the steel business. The NY Times obituary reports that he inherited $500 million, which grew to three times that amount, making him a billionaire.

As a student at Yale, the NY Times reports he was "suspended for drunken pranks, then expelled in his first year."

Mellon Scaife's early forays into politics included backing Barry Goldwater for president.

Wikipedia reports, " He provided support for conservative and libertarian causes in the U.S., mostly through the private, nonprofit foundations he controlled: the Sarah Scaife Foundation, Carthage Foundation, and Allegheny Foundation, and until 2001, the Scaife Family Foundation, now controlled by his daughter Jennie and son David.[2][3] Scaife also helped fund the Arkansas Project, a campaign to investigate Bill Clinton's past business and personal affairs."

Even before Citizens United, Mellon Scaife was buying elections. Wikipedia states, "Scaife gained notoriety for making an end-run around weak campaign finance laws to donate US$990,000 to the 1972 re-election campaign of U.S. President Richard Nixon. Scaife was not charged with a crime, but about $45,000 went to a fund linked to the Watergate scandal."

Later Mellon Scaife played a major role in advocating for President Bill Clinton's impeachment.

Mellon Scaife bought the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in 1973, and, Wikipedia says, " The paper was frequently accused of bias, especially toward that era's overwhelmingly Democratic political office holders in the county."

And Wikipedia reports, "Scaife's publications were substantially involved in coverage against then-President Bill Clinton. Scaife was the major backer of The American Spectator, whose Arkansas Project set out to find facts about Clinton and in which Paula Jones' accusations of sexual harassment against Clinton were first widely publicized.

Fair.org's profile on Mellon Scaife in an article on the Heritage of Extremism includes this nugget, "Himself the owner of local news outlets, Scaife once responded to a reporter who asked him about his contributions to the right, "You f*cking Communist c-word, get out of here" (Columbia Journalism Review, 7-8/81).

Wikipedia also informs us that "On April 20, 2008, two days before Pennsylvania's presidential primary, Scaife's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.[23]

Sourcewatch lists some of the right-wing and Libertarian organizations Mellon Scaife helped fund:

Organizations Funded Through Scaife Foundations

Submitters Bio:

Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project. 

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To learn more about Rob and OpEdNews.com, check out A Voice For Truth - ROB KALL | OM Times Magazine and this article. For Rob's work in non-political realms mostly before 2000, see his C.V..  and here's an article on the Storycon Summit Meeting he founded and organized for eight years. Press coverage in the Wall Street Journal: Party's Left Pushes for a Seat at the Table

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