The megadonor Mercer family — one of President Donald Trump’s top patrons — dramatically increased its philanthropic giving in 2015 and routed millions of dollars to charities closely associated with the conservative movement, a new tax filing reveals.
The vehicle for the contributions was the Mercer Family Foundation, which is funded by Robert Mercer, the reclusive co-chief executive officer of hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, and run by his daughter, Rebekah. It gave out roughly $24.5 million in charitable grants in 2015, the most recent time period available, a 34 percent increase over 2014.
The 2016 election cycle brought the Mercers new prominence as political heavyweights. They were among the earliest to throw support behind Trump’s bid for the Republican nomination. And they’ve remained among Trump’s most steadfast and influential backers.
Some of the conservative think tanks the Mercer foundation supported in 2015 — the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation among them — have helped supply key personnel and policy ideas to the Trump administration since his victory in November.
The Mercers’ political, charitable and business spending also serves as something of a map of their close ties to some of Trump’s top White House advisers, including chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, and Kellyanne Conway, whose title is counselor to the president.