Mega-donor forms PAC to attack Clinton

NEW YORK • Mr Robert Mercer, the Republican mega-donor and co-founder of Renaissance Technologies hedge fund who once backed Texas Senator Ted Cruz, is launching a Super PAC with a novel twist to get establishment-minded donors off the sidelines.

The new project will informally be dubbed the "Defeat Crooked Hillary PAC" and, despite its Trumpian name, will focus solely on attacking Mrs Clinton, not boosting Mr Trump.

The idea is that conservative donors reluctant to support Mr Trump can still donate in good conscience to a Super political action committee (PAC) that attacks Mrs Clinton. "It's a way to participate without (directly) supporting Trump," says a source involved in the Super PAC's creation.

Mr Mercer's anti-Clinton vehicle is actually a refurbished version of Keep The Promise PAC, a pro-Cruz Super PAC that Mr Mercer and his daughter Rebekah poured US$13.5 million (S$18 million) into during the primaries.

Mr Dave Bossie, president of the conservative advocacy group Citizens United, will head the Defeat Crooked Hillary PAC. "This is an opportunity to really refocus the presidential debate around Hillary Clinton and her character, and the whole culture of corruption that's surrounded the Clintons for decades," said Mr Bossie.

He said the name of the newly formed Super PAC will not actually appear in Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings. "Technically, the name of the Super PAC is going to be 'Make America Number One'," Mr Bossie said. "If we call it 'Defeat Crooked Hillary', it's an FEC violation.

"Some donors don't want to associate with something overtly pro-Trump. This gives people an opportunity to aggressively get involved at whatever level they might want but have it solely focused on being a Hillary Clinton effort."

Together with his wife Diana, Mr Mercer, 69, is the biggest-spending political donor in the 2016 election cycle, according to a tally by the Centre for Responsive Politics.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2016, with the headline 'Mega-donor forms PAC to attack Clinton'. Print Edition | Subscribe