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General News    H2'ed 1/16/21

Trump and His Key Long Island Enablers

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By Karl Grossman

Donald Trump has gotten pivotal support from a father and daughter combination of billionaire Robert Mercer and Rebekah Mercer functioning out of Suffolk County on Long Island.

Suffolk County, further, has been the base of one of the most ardent Trump devotees in the U.S. Congress, Lee Zeldin.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump, Jr. bought a residence in Suffolk County in 2019 -- in the Hamptons -- and there has been discussion in Long Island political circles about Trump Junior running from there for the House of Representatives.

Earlier, Lara Trump, the wife of Trump's son Eric, considered a run for the House for a seat that includes another part of Suffolk County.

Trump running in 2020 only barely won Suffolk County, its western border 30 miles from New York City. But his backing by the Mercers and the Trump political collaboration of Zeldin has been huge.

"The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon Behind The Trump Presidency" was the title of an extensive article in The New Yorker magazine by Jane Mayer in 2017. click here

Robert Mercer "has funded an array of political projects that helped pave the way for Trump's rise," said the article by Mayer, chief Washington correspondent for The New Yorker. She is also author of the 2016 best-selling book Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.

Mercer, at the time, was co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund headquartered in East Setauket on Long Island.

He left that post later in 2017 after disclosures about his major financial backing of the far right.

The New Yorker piece quoted Nick Patterson, a former senior Renaissance executive who recruited Mercer from IBM to work at the company, as saying: "Bob has used his money very effectively. He's not the first person in history to use money in politics, but in my view Trump wouldn't be president if not for Bob."

It cited Trevor Potter, president of the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan watchdog group and ex-chairman of the Federal Election Commission, as "seeing Mercer as emblematic of a major shift in American politics that occurred since 2010, when the Supreme Court made a controversial ruling in Citizens United" that "removed virtually all limits" on corporations spending in election campaigns. "Suddenly, a random billionaire can change politics and public policy," said Potter, a Republican.

As to issues, the New Yorker article related how Mercer "has argued that the Civil Rights Act, in 1964, was a major mistake" and sought to "downplay the dangers posed by nuclear war. Mercer, speaking of the atomic bombs that the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, argued that, outside of the immediate blast zones, the radiation actually made Japanese citizens healthier." He is "a proponent of nuclear power" and believes "nuclear accidents weren't such a big deal."

He has worked together with his "ardently conservative daughter, Rebekah," related the piece. She chairs the Mercer Family Foundation which dispenses Mercer millions.

Another article in 2017, in The Atlantic magazine, was headed: "What Does the Billionaire Family Backing Donald Trump Really Want? The Mercers are enjoying more influence with their candidate in the White House

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Karl Grossman is a professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury and host of the nationally syndicated TV program Enviro Close-Up (

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