Mercer even seemed to distance himself from Breitbart chairman and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who oversaw Yiannopoulos during the latter’s time at Breitbart.
“The press has also intimated that my politics marches in lockstep with Steve Bannon’s,” Mercer wrote. “I have great respect for Mr. Bannon, and from time to time I do discuss politics with him. However, I make my own decisions with respect to whom I support politically. Those decisions do not always align with Mr. Bannon’s.”
Mercer’s comments could seem a bad sign for Bannon, though a Bannon ally said there were no negative implications for the intra-party insurgency against establishment Republicans Bannon is planning for the 2018 midterm elections.
Mercer’s retirement from Renaissance and exit from Breitbart “frees up time for him to be even more engaged politically,” this person said. “Expect him to work closer with Steve.” Another Republican source with knowledge of the situation predicted that “There’s gonna be no financial distance at the end of the day.” Even before this, Mercer’s daughter Rebekah had played a decisive role in the family’s political decisions.
It’s rare for the secretive Mercers—especially Robert—to speak publicly, and even rarer for them to bow to public pressure. While much of the Republican party was throwing Donald Trump overboard after the leak of the Access Hollywood tape which showed him boasting about groping women, the Mercers stood by him. They called the comments on the tape “locker room braggadocio” and slammed “those among the political elite who quake before the boombox of media blather” who “do not appreciate the apocalyptic choice that America faces on Nov. 8.”
But over the past year, there has been intense scrutiny of the family and their record in politics. They invested a reported $10 million in Breitbart News years ago, and have given to causes and candidates all over the right-wing map. But the reason for their becoming objects of media fascination is their early support of Trump before other major donors got on board. It is Rebekah Mercer who recommended that Trump hire Bannon and Kellyanne Conway.
This has also focused more attention on Renaissance. An activist group called Sleeping Giants, which has also targeted Breitbart advertisers, has launched a campaign aimed at pressuring Renaissance investors to take their money back from the fund. A former executive has sued the company after he was fired, he claims, for speaking out against Mercer’s support of Trump. In the lawsuit, the executive, David Magerman, claimed that Mercer had made comments disparaging the Civil Rights Act and accusing black Americans of being the “only racist people remaining in the U.S.”
Mercer’s letter on Thursday refers to these allegations: “Of the many mischaracterizations made of me by the press, the most repugnant to me have been the intimations that I am a white supremacist or a member of some other noxious group,” he wrote. “Discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, creed, or anything of that sort is abhorrent to me. But more than that, it is ignorant.”