Texas Senator Ted Cruz is Joe Conservative America, a self-made Canadian immigrant who forged a huge legal career before putting everything on the line to run for office and save America.
Well, there are some small holes in that story. Aside from large, low-interest loans made to him by Goldman Sachs and Citi, Ted Cruz also has a very eccentric hedge fund titan pumping millions into his campaign.
Oh, you guys didn't know about Ted's close money relationship with hedge fund manager extraordinaire Bob Mercer? Well then you should read this rather fantastic story by Bloomberg's Zachary Mider.
Mercer is one of the most enigmatic and powerful forces in U.S. politics... Mercer has put at least $32 million behind conservative candidates for office, including $11 million for a group supporting Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. So far, Mercer is the biggest single donor in the race.
Does the name Bob Mercer ring a bell? It should, because Mercer is the co-CEO of ur-quant fund Renaissance Technologies and a notoriously mysterious and strange character in the world of finance.
We've talked about Mercer's unique housekeeping rules in the past, but Mider's story digs very deep into the legend of Bob Mercer and finds some pretty amazing stuff.
For instance, he's an enigmatic conservative with a whimsically antisocial habit:
He’s tight-lipped even with his friends. That’s made him an object of intense speculation. Some allies privately say they think he’s pro-life and opposed to gay marriage, and others say the opposite. Republican operatives gossip about what little scraps of information they can glean—his theatrical Christmas galas, his habit of whistling to himself during business meetings.
His money finds it way into the hands of some real characters:
He’s attended and funded an annual conference organized by Jane Orient, an Arizona physician and activist who recently suggested in an opinion article that elements in the U.S. government might have taken part in the San Bernardino massacre. Mercer money also found its way to an Idaho activist named Fred Kelly Grant, who travels the country encouraging legal challenges to environmental laws, which he says are part of a sinister plot by the United Nations to depopulate rural America.
He's got fun hobbies:
Mercer has dubbed his house the Owl’s Nest. Owls seem to be something of a familiar for Mercer. He’s commissioned a succession of yachts, all called Sea Owl, the latest of which stretches to 203 feet, with a pirate-themed playroom for the grandkids and a chandelier of Venetian glass. At least one Sea Owl was fitted with a medical center and video links, so a stroke at sea, for instance, could be diagnosed and treated remotely by a former White House physician ashore. Mercer built a palatial stable and riding center in Florida, bristling with security cameras and stocked with million-dollar show horses for his wife of 49 years, Diana. Through Centre Firearms, a gun dealership he owns with a group of investors, he recently acquired one of the country’s largest collections of machine guns and historical firearms, including a weapon Arnold Schwarzenegger wielded in The Terminator.
He's a gold standard guy, like ferreal:
Four people who’ve discussed the matter with him say Mercer is preoccupied with the country’s monetary and banking systems, which he sees as hopelessly compromised by government meddling. He was the main financial backer of the Jackson Hole Summit, a conference that took place in Wyoming last August to advocate for the gold standard, two of these people said. His name wasn’t anywhere on the agenda. According to video shot at the event, he sat with Rebekah toward the back of the audience, an unobtrusive, silver-haired gentleman with dark brows, wire-rimmed glasses, a navy suit, and a red tie. At dinner that night, he sat at a table while other guests chattered around him, softly whistling to himself.
So, he's a super-private whistling math genius who indulges people on the fringe right wing and would like to link our currency back to gold.
That explains why Cruz has been talking up the gold standard lately...
According to [fellow Cruz donor] Neugebauer, Cruz laid the groundwork for his run in February 2014, at a private meeting on the deck of the Palm Beach home of prominent donors Lee and Allie Hanley. Joining the Hanleys around a table in the Florida sun were Cruz and his wife, Heidi; his strategist, Jason Johnson; Neugebauer; and Robert and Rebekah Mercer. The topic was Cruz’s chances in the election. A pair of researchers hired by Mercer and Hanley presented some intriguing findings. The country was ready for a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington figure—they used the phrase “Trump-like,” Neugebauer says—meaning that an outsider candidate should have a good shot in 2016. The elder Mercer, as usual, sat silently in his suit and tie as the group spent seven hours discussing how a race might play out.
“Finally, the senator turns to him and says, ‘Bob, you haven’t said anything all day. Tell me what you think,’ ” Neugebauer recalls. Mercer spoke for just a few minutes. “He helped us frame up how we should be thinking about our risks and opportunities,” Neugebauer says. “Bob is one of the greatest minds living.”
After that meeting, Mercer put $11 million into a Cruz Super PAC.
Taking that kind of money from a billionaire who manages a hedge fund that was the subject of a Senate investigation for it's tax machinations does put Cruz in pretty tight quarters with the "crony capitalism" that he is so wont to attack on the campaign trail.
And for Cruz's newly self-appointed chief antagonist Donald Trump ,who has taken to saying that Cruz "is owned by Goldman Sachs," for taking a loan from the bank, this little tidbit about Cruz's attendance of Mercer's notoriously elaborate Christmas party is too deliciously perfect to use in an attack on Cruz's relationship with Mercer:
Last Christmas’s theme was the end of World War II. A tank greeted visitors arriving at the estate; the dining tent was set up as a mess hall, where a trio impersonating the Andrews Sisters sang Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy and In the Mood. In the library, visitors peered at a piece of the USS Arizona retrieved from the wreckage of Pearl Harbor and a wedding dress made of parachute silk. Mercer was dressed as General Douglas MacArthur. Ted Cruz, in a three-piece suit, came as Winston Churchill.
Again, Ted Cruz is just a regular Joe American, who dresses up like world leaders at the estates of billionaires who give him millions.