Rebekah Mercer, Climate Denial Funder and the American Museum of Natural History

A year ago, few people had heard of millionaires Robert and Rebekah Mercer (except for Steve Bannon, who was being paid by them).  Their role as major Trump financial backers emerged after the election as did Rebekah Mercer’s purported role as a Trump advisor, getting Bannon and Kellyanne Conway involved in the Trump campaign and into the Whitehouse.

Meanwhile, in addition to being major donors to Bannon’s former fiefdom, Brietbart News, the Mercers apparently have other pet projects they’ve been building for years, including pumping millions of dollars into the climate denial machine. We wrote about this last March after major Washington Post and NewYorker stories about the Mercers.

New Mercer Tax Documents

Our researchers recently got ahold of the new Mercer Family Foundation 2016 990 tax form and a complete copy (with the funders named) of the CO2 Coalition 2016 990 tax form.

Over the past decade, the Mercer Family Foundation, run by Rebekah Mercer and her father Robert, has become a major funder of non-profit organizations who attack climate science and environmental policy solutions. The Mercers’ foundation has written checks totaling tens of millions of dollars in recent years to a number of organizations that are now ringleaders of the climate denial movement.  Their funding has enabled these groups and the climate denial movement to survive even as previous corporate funding from the likes of ExxonMobil dried up after being exposed.

The Heartland Institute, has garnered nearly $5.9 million from the Mercers from 2008 to 2016, far more than the $4 million the Mercers have donated to the American Museum of Natural History. The Heartland Institute boldly takes credit for molding President Trump’s position on climate change and continues to pressure the Administration to denounce climate science and erase existing climate policy and regulations like their “red team” campaign to kill the EPA climate “endangerment” finding, as we have detailed here.

These newly disclosed 2016 tax documents show Mercer grants to Heartland Institute for $800,000, the CO2 Coalition for $150,000 and the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change for $125,000. Each of the organizations maintains that carbon dioxide pollution is beneficial for ecosystems, agriculture and humanity, a position in clear conflict with the international scientific consensus on climate change. It is now known that the Mercer Family Foundation was the largest donor of the CO2 Coalition.

The Mercers also, for the first time, pumped $2,250,000 through Donors Trust, the so called Dark Money ATM.  Destination unknown.

Rebekah Mercer and the Natural History Museum Board

This week a petition titled Kick Mercer Out was circulated among scientists calling for Rebekah Mercer to be booted from the Board of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The New York Times was first to illuminate Rebekah Mercer’s ties to the American Museum of Natural History in January 2017.  The pressure continued with a letter from curators at the museum sent to AMNH management today.

250 Top Scientists Urge American Museum of Natural History to Kick Climate Denial Funder Rebekah Mercer off its Board
Last night more than 200 leading scientists–including former NASA head James Hansen, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning psychiatrist Eric Chivian and the former director of the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum James Powell–released a letter urging NY’s American Museum of Natural History to cut ties to donor and board member Rebekah Mercer.
“The most important asset any museum has is its credibility. This can be damaged by ties to donors and board members who are publicly known for investing in climate science obfuscation and opposing environmental solutions,” the letter reads.

Coverage so far:

New York Times, Curators at Museum of Natural History Object to a Trustee  

The Hill, Scientists Protest Over Trump Ally’s Position at Natural History Museum

Background resources

Pogrebin, Robin, “Museum Trustee, a Trump Donor, Supports Groups That Deny Climate Change”, New York Times, January 17, 2017.

Gold, Matea,”The Mercers, Trump mega-donors, back group that casts doubt on climate science”, Washington Post, March 26, 2017.

Eilperin, Juliet and Dennis, Brady, “This group thinks Trump hasn’t done enough to unravel environmental rules. Here’s its wish list.” Washington Post, November 15, 2017.

CO2 Coalition (formerly the George C. Marshall Institute), DeSmogBlog Climate Disinformation Database, accessed January 21, 2018.

Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide, DeSmogBlog Climate Disinformation Database, accessed January 21, 2018.


Posted by Kert Davies