Billionaire Robert Mercer resigned as the CEO of Renaissance Technologies yesterday. He also announced that he would no longer support ultra conservative speaker Milo Yiannopolous and that he’s giving his stock in Breitbart to his daughters, citing the “pain and divisiveness” that Yiannopolous had incited as his reason. This cleansing of conscience has gained him nothing but derision, with the Daily Beast writing a piece, “Robert Mercer’s Horses*it Mea Culpa. His ploy is, unfortunately for Mercer, all too transparent. The New York Times reported yesterday that Baltimore’s police and firefighters union asked that $33Milion invested in Renaissance be refunded to them presumably because of their discomfort with Mercer’s political activities, and they are far from the only clients expressing unease with Mercer’s stance on controversial subjects. Former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro called Mercer’s stepping down just a PR maneuver:
“This seems to me much more like Robert Mercer separating…his image from his money-making capacity than an actual disassociation with the people he funded for so long,” said former Breitbart.com editor Ben Shapiro. “The only person who’s really damaged here is Yiannopoulos. Rebekah’s gonna continue funding Breitbart, [and] there’s no repentance or shift here…it’s just a P.R. maneuver to [take] pressure off his hedge-fund investors.”
Another reason why Mercer may have decided to distance himself from Breitbart and Yiannopolous is because of a lawsuit that was filed back in May by former Renaissance Technologies partner David Magerman, who openly states that Mercer is a racist. Vanity Fair (May 8, 2017):
In court papers filed on Friday, Magerman argues that following a pair of phone conversations in which Mercer expressed arguably racist opinions, Magerman felt obliged to inform the press about his boss’s viewpoints—and that he received verbal assurance by Renaissance C.O.O. Mark Silber that the statements he intended to make were “permissible under company policy.” Those racist opinions, according to Magerman, included comments such as:
a) The United States began to go in the wrong direction after the passage of the Civl Rights Act in the 1960s;
b) African Americans were doing fine in the late-1950s and early-1960s before the Civil Rights Act;
c) The Civil Rights Act “infantilized” African Americas by making them dependent on government and removing any incentive to work;
d) The only racist people remaining in the United States are black; and
e) White people have no racial animus toward African Americans anymore, and if there is any, is it not something that the government should be concerned with.
The best part of the filing, at least to us, was that when Magerman “point[ed] out that society was segregated before the Civil Rights Act and African Americans were required to use separate and inferior schools, water fountains, and other everyday services and items,” Mercer allegedly responded that “those issues were not important.” In a subsequent phone conversation (the “white supremacist” one), Magerman claimed Mercer initially “disputed that he had said such things, although he did not actually deny saying them” and “in the course of rehashing the conversation . . . repeated many of these same views, and even cited research that allegedly supported his opinion that the Civil Rights Act harmed African Americans economically.” (A spokesman for Renaissance declined to comment.)
This old leopard is not going to change his spots any time soon and nobody credible is buying any of this.
Good luck to Robert Mercer, not only with this lawsuit, but in prevailing in the suit he filed against the Guardian for their coverage of Mercer’s interference in Brexit. Discovery is proceeding apace as to how Cambridge Analytica, another Mercer company, profiled 240 million Americans, figuring out their psychometric triggers and how to pull them. Mercer had plans to dethrone the omniscient Koch Brothers and reign over the GOP but he may be too busy with his own legal problems to pursue any more ambitious dreams.