New federal filings show the ‘Black Americans for a Better Future’ Super PAC is not funded—even in the slightest—by any black Americans. In fact, most of its money comes from Robert Mercer, a reclusive white billionaire with an affinity for Ted Cruz.
Mercer, the co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies, is a “reclusive” Long Island billionaire so removed from the spotlight only three or four pictures of him exist in regular circulation on the internet. But according to the Times, he’s a poker player who doesn’t always get along with his household staff and enjoys playing with model trains:
Intensely private, he has been described as “an icy cold poker player” whose boss once jokingly called him “an automaton,” according to a description in “More Money Than God,” a book about the hedge fund industry by Sebastian Mallaby.
Before joining Renaissance Technologies, Mr. Mercer, 68, worked at I.B.M.’s research center, where he specialized in computerized translation of languages.
While little of his private life has been made public, some details have emerged in recent court cases. In 2013, a group of former workers at his house sued him for not paying overtime. They also accused him of deducting money from their semi-annual bonuses as a form of punishment for, among other things, failing to replace shampoos, close doors and change razor blades. “The matter has been resolved amicably,” Troy L. Kessler, a lawyer for the employees, said.
In 2009, Mr. Mercer sued RailDreams, a toy train manufacturer, and its president, Richard Taylor, for overcharging him $2 million for a contract to build and install a model train and railway set at his home.
His money, on the other hand, is a bit less shy. According to The Intercept, he personally donated $11 million to a Cruz Super PAC earlier this year, and the Times points out he was the main drive behind a group of four Super PACS that raised $30 million for Cruz early on in his campaign.
So why the Black Americans Super PAC? According to The Intercept, the fund exists “solely as a vehicle for Washington, D.C. consultant Raynard Jackson, who is African American,” though it also served to subsidize what sounds like a delicious dinner at Morton’s Steakhouse in New York.
As of its current FEC filings, BABF has spent a total of $172,424.69, including $38,983.45 in net salary payment to Jackson for the last five months of 2015. Together with $26,952.55 disbursed for payroll taxes, this indicates Jackson is receiving an annual salary of $155,000. The Super PAC’s remaining spending has been mostly for travel, hotels and food, including about $5,000 at New York’s famous Morton’s Steakhouse on Fifth Avenue.