Op-Ed: Zeldin, Tycoon Lead Trump Support

Suffolk County has not only been the base of one of Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters in Congress, Lee Zeldin, but it’s also been the base of an intensely pro-Trump father and daughter combination of billionaire Robert Mercer and Rebekah Mercer.

Further, in 2019 Donald Trump, Jr. bought a house in Bridgehampton and there has been discussion in political circles about his seeking to run for public office from Suffolk.

“The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon Behind The Trump Presidency” was the heading of an extensive article about Mr. Mercer in The New Yorker magazine in 2017. Mr. Mercer “has funded an array of political projects that helped pave the way for Trump’s rise,” said the article by Jane Mayer. She is chief Washington correspondent for The New Yorker. She is the author of the 2016 best-selling book Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.

Mr. Mercer, at the time, was co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies of East Setauket.

He left that post later in 2017 after reporting on his major financial backing of the far right.

The New Yorker article quoted Nick Patterson, a former senior Renaissance executive who recruited Mr. Mercer 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 Mr. Potter, a Republican.

As to issues, the article related how Mr. Mercer “has argued that the Civil Right 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.” She chairs the Mercer Family Foundation. 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 is their 66-acre estate in Head of the Harbor, a village in the Town of Smithtown. It was there that Mr. Trump came after his 2016 election win to what has been described as a “lavish costume party” hosted by the Mercers.

And then there is Mr. Zeldin of Shirley.

Mr. 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 of Representatives chambers in which he was talking—against Congress approving the Electoral College determination that Trump lost the 2020 election. Then, last week, again on the House floor, Mr. 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 stating, “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.

Mr. 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 he resign. He should. And if he won’t, be expelled or voters causing him to go.

“Zeldin has tethered himself to Trump from the start,” says Progressive East End Reformers. “Now comes the day of reckoning for his radical allegiance.”

As for Donald Trump, Jr., for $4.5 million he purchased a residence on 3.9 acres in a gated waterfront community in Bridgehampton. Talked about in Suffolk politics has been the possibility he’d run for the House—for Mr. Zeldin’s lst Congressional District seat.

The scenario spoken of involved Trump Senior getting a second term and appointing Mr. Zeldin to a position in his administration and Trump Junior running to replace Mr. Zeldin. In 2019 there was discussion of Lara Trump, wife of Mr. Trump’s son, Eric, running for the House in the 2nd C.D., which includes Suffolk and Nassau, but she opted not to.

      

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