Time: How a Reclusive Hedge-Fund Boss and His Daughter Are Reshaping the Republican Party
Over the course of the 2016 presidential contest, the Mercers have become two of the most pivotal and least understood behind-the-scenes players in American politics. Robert Mercer is a reclusive figure who has never spoken publicly about his political beliefs. Daughter Rebekah, a former Wall Street trader who runs an online gourmet-cookie company with her sisters, is described as the activist investor behind the family’s vast political concerns. Together they form a link between Trump’s campaign and super PAC, armed with the cash and clout to shape everything from his staff to his data operation to his super PAC strategy. “It’s hard to think of anybody like them,” says Larry Noble of the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center.
Whatever their motivations, the Mercers are in important ways the shape of things to come. In an increasingly atomized GOP, wealthy donors are building their own bespoke political machines, outfitted with everything from data shops to voter files. And they’re wiping away the boundaries between campaigns and their backers. “It’s hard to look at what the Mercers are doing and say it’s what the Supreme Court envisioned” in its Citizens United ruling, says the Campaign Legal Center’s Noble.