Cruz Is Suddenly a Player, Thanks to Reclusive Backer

Millionaire Robert Mercer helps him raise an 'eye-popping' $31M right off the bat
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2015 9:36 AM CDT
Cruz Is Suddenly a Player, Thanks to Reclusive Backer
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks at the National Rifle Association convention Friday in Nashville, Tenn.   (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

If other GOP contenders shrugged off Ted Cruz's chances of winning the nomination, it's a safe bet they're reassessing things after four new super PACS announced they'd raised a staggering $31 million to support his new candidacy. "Even in the context of a presidential campaign cycle in which the major party nominees are expected to raise more than $1.5 billion, Cruz’s haul is eye-popping, one that instantly raises the stakes in the Republican fundraising contest," writes Mark Halperin at Bloomberg. The super PACs in question are only a week old, and it's unprecedented to have raised so much so quickly. So who's behind the money? The New York Times identifies the main player as a "reclusive Long Islander" named Robert Mercer.

Mercer began his career at IBM but now runs a hedge fund called Renaissance Technologies, and like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson, he is taking advantage of the Citizens United case that loosened restrictions on wealthy donors. He's "a very low-profile guy, but he’s becoming a bigger and bigger player,” says one campaign finance expert. And his backing of Cruz “sends the message to other donors that Cruz is a serious guy,” which in turn encourages other donors. The Times notes that Mercer's hedge fund is under investigation by the IRS, an agency that Cruz would love to abolish. A previous profile of Mercer at Bloomberg describes him as "one of the most powerful men in Republican politics that nobody is talking about." (More Ted Cruz stories.)

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