Friday, April 6, 2018
Trump backer Robert Mercer helped fund anti-Muslim ads in 2016
WASHINGTON — Robert Mercer, a billionaire supporter of President Trump, spent $2 million to help target voters in swing states with anti-Muslim advertising ahead of the 2016 election, according to documents released Thursday by a nonpartisan watchdog group.
An unredacted tax return obtained by the Center for Responsive Politics shows Mercer was the largest individual contributor that year to Secure America Now, an ultra-conservative nonprofit group that funded ads, which envisioned a Muslim conquest of Western countries. The commercials ran on Facebook and Google.
One commercial welcomed viewers to the “Islamic States of America,” a land where “weak leaders” and “unsecured borders” had allowed jihadi fighters to overtake the country. It showed the Statue of Liberty cloaked in a burka and Los Angeles’ iconic Hollywood sign replaced by the Arabic phrase, “Allahu Akbar" or God is great.
The IRS filings were the first documents linking the group to Mercer. Attempts to reach him Thursday by USA TODAY were unsuccessful.
Mercer and his daughter Rebekah Mercer have been influential players in Trump’s orbit. The family has provided financial backing toBreitbart News and to Cambridge Analytica, a voter profiling form that worked on Trump’s campaign and is at the center of a controversy over misuse of Facebook user information.
Cambridge officials have said they did not use any improperly obtained Facebook data in Trump's campaign.
On Thursday, the Muslim advocacy group Council on American-Islamic Relations called on the IRS and Federal Election Commission investigate whether Secure America Now violated election or tax laws with its advertising.