Republican mega-donors Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah Mercer attended a conference at the Heartland Institute last week, where speakers repeatedly bashed climate science and dismissed its research as being manipulated to fit scientists’ theories, according to a Sunday Washington Post report.
The fact that the Mercers attended the two-day conference signals that the family plans to continue their financial support of the Heartland Institute.
It could also suggest the direction in which the wealthy donors hope to move the Trump administration.
President Trump is expected to release executive orders on climate change by Tuesday that will do away with efforts by the Obama administration to lower emissions from coal-burning power plants. Doing away with Obama’s clean power plan could also make it difficult for the U.S. to meet its commitments under the Paris climate agreement.
At the conference, the Mercers, who largely supported Trump’s campaign, listened to speakers who embraced the possibility that President Trump will implement deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and scale back other environmental regulations.
The Mercer family’s foundation donated millions to the Heartland Institute over the years. Between 2008 and 2015, they gave the group over $5 million, according to tax filings obtained by the Washington Post.
In recent years, however, the Mercers’ financial contributions have dropped significantly from $885,000 in 2014 to $100,000 in 2015.
Rebekah Mercer declined the Washington Post’s request for an interview. Heartland officials declined the Washington Post’s request for comment on the Mercers’ financial support, saying they do not discuss their donors.
The Mercer foundation also contributed $500,000 to Berkeley Earth, a nonprofit research organization run by Richard Muller, who used to be a climate change skeptic until 2012 when he said his research revealed that human beings are the cause for global warming.
“He has been very supportive of our work and never once did he indicate to us that he had a hope for outcomes in what we did,” Muller said in an interview with the Washington Post on Friday.
Muller said Robert Mercer originally contacted him after giving a climate-related speech at Mercer’s hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies. He defended Mercer, saying they still receive funding from Mercer despite his findings, calling him “very open.”