The 43-year-old New York heiress Rebekah Mercer of New York and her 70-year-old billionaire father Robert have been identified as key donors and strategists behind Donald Trump's successful presidential campaign.
And Oregon played an important part in the story of their rise to influence.
The Mercers are leading investors in Breitbart News and Rebekah Mercer workers closely with Breitbart's erstwhile chief editor, White House adviser Steve Bannon. The family also bankrolls Cambridge Analytica, a digital data-mining operation involved in the United Kingdom's Brexit vote as well as the Trump campaign.
Today, in-depth stories in the New Yorker magazine, as well as the Huffington Post's enterprise reporting section, Highline, reveal how the Mercers ran a prototype of their new model right-wing campaign in Oregon seven years ago—with Arthur Robinson, a right-wing Cave Junction chemist who lost several bids for Congress.
There's another bit of news buried deep in the New Yorker story.
Rebekah Mercer has suggested to President Trump that Robinson be named national science adviser but, according to the magazine, this proposal "has gone nowhere" with Trump, much like her advocacy for "a return to the gold standard."
Under Rebekah’s leadership, the family foundation poured some $70 million into conservative causes between 2009 and 2014. According to The Washington Post, the family donated $35 million to conservative think tanks and at least to $36.5 million to individual GOP races. The first candidate they threw their financial weight behind was Arthur Robinson, a chemist from Oregon who was running for Congress. He was best known in his district for co-founding an organization that is collecting thousands of vials of urine as part of an effort it says will “revolutionize the evaluation of personal chemistry.” Robinson didn’t win, but he got closer than expected, and the Mercers got a taste of what their money could do.
Robinson lost his 2010 campaign against US Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) with 43 percent of the vote. WW took note of his connections to wealthy climate-change deniers.
Robinson told WW in 2016 that he bonded with Mercer over their love of science and "have almost nothing to say to each other about politics."
The New Yorker story casts some doubt on that claim.
Press accounts speculated that Robert Mercer may have targeted DeFazio because DeFazio had proposed a tax on a type of high-volume stock trade that Renaissance frequently made. But several associates of Mercer’s say that the truth is stranger. DeFazio’s Republican opponent was Arthur Robinson—the biochemist, sheep rancher, and climate-change denialist. The Mercers became his devoted supporters after reading Access to Energy, an offbeat scientific newsletter that he writes. The family has given at least $1.6 million in donations to Robinson’s Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. Some of the money was used to buy freezers in which Robinson is storing some fourteen thousand samples of human urine. Robinson has said that, by studying the urine, he will find new ways of extending the human life span.
[…] Robinson, who calls himself a “Jesus-plus-nothing-else” Christian, has become a hero to the religious right for homeschooling his six children. Robert and Rebekah Mercer have praised a curriculum that Robinson sells. (An advertisement for it casts doubt on evolution: “No demonstration has ever been made of the process of ‘spontaneous origin of life.’ ”) Robinson has said that the “socialist” agenda of public schools is “evil” and represents “a form of child abuse.”
Robinson did not immediately respond to WW's requests for comment on the New Yorker and Highline stories.