How the Mercers' millions bankrolled election lies, white nationalism and the Capitol riot - 2021-02-04
Four years before Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., pumped his fist to a supportive mob that would soon overrun the Capitol Police and hunt lawmakers through the halls of Congress, the former Missouri attorney general needed a deep-pocketed patron. Naturally, he called on the man who helped bankroll former President Donald Trump's rise: hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer, whom he would soon describe as a friend while name-dropping him to court support from far-right figures like Steve Bannon, a longtime Mercer ally. It's unclear what came of Hawley's meeting with Mercer, but the Club for Growth, which has received millions from the Mercer family, and the Senate Conservatives Fund, which also got Mercer donations, quickly became Hawley's biggest financial backers, by far. Mercer's daughter Rebekah kicked in a near-maximum donation to his 2018 Senate campaign for good measure.
While Charles Koch and his late brother David have dominated Republican fundraising in recent decades, the Mercers' recent strategic investments in far-right candidates bought them a disproportionate level of influence in the Republican Party before culminating in an effort to subvert the election that fueled the deadly Capitol siege.
"The Mercers laid the groundwork for the Trump revolution," Bannon told The New Yorker in 2017. "Irrefutably, when you look at donors during the past four years, they have had the single biggest impact of anybody, including the Kochs." Steve Schmidt, a former Republican strategist and co-founder of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, sees it differently. Rebekah Mercer, he said in an interview with Salon, is the "chief financier or one of the chief financiers of the fascist movement, and that's what it is."