Donald Trump has gotten pivotal support from a father and daughter combination of billionaire Robert Mercer and Rebekah Mercer functioning out of Suffolk County on Long Island.
Suffolk County, further, has been the base of one of the most ardent Trump devotees in the U.S. Congress, Lee Zeldin.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump, Jr. bought a residence in Suffolk County in 2019—in the Hamptons—and there has been discussion in Long Island political circles about Trump Junior running from there for the House of Representatives.
Earlier, Lara Trump, the wife of Trump’s son Eric, considered a run for the House for a seat that includes another part of Suffolk County.
Trump running in 2020 only barely won Suffolk County, its western border 30 miles from New York City. But his backing by the Mercers and the Trump political collaboration of Zeldin has been huge.
“The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon Behind The Trump Presidency” was the title of an extensive article in The New Yorker magazine by Jane Mayer in 2017.
Robert Mercer “has funded an array of political projects that helped pave the way for Trump’s rise,” said the article by Mayer, chief Washington correspondent for The New Yorker. She is also author of the 2016 best-selling book Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.
Mercer, at the time, was co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund headquartered in East Setauket on Long Island.
He left that post later in 2017 after disclosures about his major financial backing of the far right.
The New Yorker piece quoted Nick Patterson, a former senior Renaissance executive who recruited Mercer from IBM to work at the company, as saying: “Bob has used his money very effectively. He’s not the first person in history to use money in politics, but in my view Trump wouldn’t be president if not for Bob.”
It cited Trevor Potter, president of the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan watchdog group and ex-chairman of the Federal Election Commission, as “seeing Mercer as emblematic of a major shift in American politics that occurred since 2010, when the Supreme Court made a controversial ruling in Citizens United” that “removed virtually all limits” on corporations spending in election campaigns. “Suddenly, a random billionaire can change politics and public policy,” said Potter, a Republican.
As to issues, the New Yorker article related how Mercer “has argued that the Civil Rights Act, in 1964, was a major mistake” and sought to “downplay the dangers posed by nuclear war. Mercer, speaking of the atomic bombs that the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, argued that, outside of the immediate blast zones, the radiation actually made Japanese citizens healthier.” He is “a proponent of nuclear power” and believes “nuclear accidents weren’t such a big deal.”
He has worked together with his “ardently conservative daughter, Rebekah,” related the piece. She chairs the Mercer Family Foundation which dispenses Mercer millions.
Another article in 2017, in The Atlantic magazine, was headed: “What Does the Billionaire Family Backing Donald Trump Really Want? The Mercers are enjoying more influence with their candidate in the White House…”
“Robert Mercer very rarely speaks in public and never to journalists,” reported the British publication, The Guardian, also in 2017, “so to gauge his beliefs you have to look at where he channels his money.” This also includes, it noted, “a climate change denial thinktank, the Heartland Institute.”
The Mercer family’s nerve center in Suffolk County is its 66-acre estate in Head of the Harbor.
It was there that Mr. Trump came soon after his 2016 election win to what was described as a “lavish costume party” hosted by the Mercers.
“Several strategists who helped engineer Trump’s upset win were attending, including incoming White House senior counselor Stephen Bannon and senior aide Kellyanne Conway,” said the December 2016 article in Business Insider. “Both Conway and Bannon have close ties to Rebekah Mercer, the daughter of hedge fund manager Robert Mercer. The younger Mercer became Trump’s leading and most influential donor and urged him to bring Bannon and Conway into the campaign in August.”
It went on: “Rebekah Mercer, who ran a pro-Trump Super PAC, had compared the electoral race between Trump and his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton to an ‘apocalyptic choice,’ so the night’s ‘Villains and Heroes’ theme was perhaps fitting.”
And then there is Zeldin.
Zeldin spoke—a few hours after the January 6th attack by Trump supporters and amid the residue of the mess they made in the very House chambers in which he was talking—against Congress approving the Electoral College determination that Trump lost the 2020 election.
Then, in this past week, again on the House floor, Zeldin fervently opposed impeachment of Mr. Trump for “incitement of insurrection” in the fiery speech he gave in front of The White House to his followers. This is when Trump proclaimed, “We’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue…and we’re going to the Capitol,” adding “You have to be strong.” They then marched on the Capitol engaging in violence to try to undo the election.
Zeldin was re-elected in November to a fourth two-year term despite being accurately described as a Trump sycophant in that campaign and years before.
There are now many demands that Zeldin resign. He should.
And if he won’t, he should be expelled from the House or voters causing him to go.
“Zeldin has tethered himself to Trump from the start,” said Progressive East End Reformers. “Now comes the day of reckoning for his radical allegiance.” The group charged Zeldin attempted “to subvert democracy and overturn a free and fair election.”
“Lee Zeldin Must Go,” was the editorial in The East Hampton Star. It said: “After more than four years as one of the corrupt president’s most unfailing supporters, the rot has consumed Mr. Zeldin from the inside, turning him into a putrescent shell with no business remaining in Washington. His failure to stand up for democracy when it really mattered will be an everlasting shame.”
Summing up the Zeldin situation, an editorial in The Southampton Press, The Sag Harbor Express and The East Hampton Press declared: U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin took to the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday—with broken glass littering the carpet, a protester killed and a Capitol Police officer fatally wounded, and three others dead as a direct result of the pandemonium when rioters smashed into the seat of American democracy—and, mere hours after the bloodshed, amplified the same misinformation that fueled the violence. It was breathtaking, and nauseating.”
“His misguided, oblivious arrogance makes him kin to the deluded masses who stormed the Capitol, convinced they were ‘stopping a steal’ of a fair election that wasn’t particularly close, driven by a man who insisted, in the alternate reality he sells, that he not only won but in a landslide,” it continued.
“After the actions of a crowd fueled by such misinformation, it was horrific to see this region’s representative in the House pushing this dark fantasy, having seen, clearly, the threat it presents.”
Zeldin as “a member of the military”—he is an officer in the Army Reserve—”has chosen the Trump flag over the American flag. An attorney who rejects the legitimacy of the court system….He has aligned with a president attacking American democracy. He continues the misinformation campaign that created the chaos at the Capitol. He will go down in history as an active part of a radical, discredited movement with blood on its hands.”
As for Donald Trump, Jr., for $4.5 million he purchased a residence on 3.9 acres in a gated waterfront community and ever since there’s been talk in Suffolk politics that he intended to run for the House—indeed for Zeldin’s New York lst Congressional District seat which covers all of eastern Long Island.
The scenario spoken of involved Trump Senior getting a second term and appointing Zeldin to a position in his administration and Trump Junior running to replace Zeldin.
An earlier prospect, also in 2019, was Trump daughter-in-law Lara Trump running for the House in the 2nd Congressional District of New York which takes in much of western Suffolk County and a part of neighboring Nassau County. But she opted not to.
With the Trump nightmare finally ending, what’s next for the Mercers? Will Zeldin indeed “go”? And what about the Trump relatives using Suffolk County as a political springboard?