A congressman from Oregon, Peter Defazio, is accusing Renaissance Technologies’ Robert “Bob” Mercer of secretly funding attack ads that have been running against him.The other side of this story is that Defazio is playing this for all its worth, riding on the “anti-Wall Street” gravy train and drumming up press about how he’s the victim of a hedge fund manager’s evil plot.
But let’s start at the beginning.
Peter Defazio is running for re-election in Oregon. His opponent is Art Robinson.
In late September, the Washington Post found that a group calling itself Concerned Taxpayers of America (CTA) started running television ads – costing $86,000 – contending that DeFazio had been in league with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in wrecking the economy.
The ad said Robinson, on the other hand, is “a new voice, a smarter choice, the independent leader we need.”
We’ve watched the ads (watch below), and they aren’t nice, but “attack” ads seems like an exaggeration.
Anyway, Defazio freaked out about the ads, primarily because he didn’t know who was behind them, and he launched a counter-attack against the anonymous CTA.
He visited the address of the CTA, and found a random renter inside who knew nothing about the agency. Defazio concluded:
“These people must be really scared of revealing who they really are, or they wouldn’t be having a blind drop and someone who’s probably misrepresenting themselves answering the door.”
Until now, no one but the donor knew who he was or why he had an agenda against Defazio. Donors are permitted to do so under cover of anonymity until 16 days before the election. (A political reporter points out that the ads against DeFazio are a good reason why this lack of disclosure is unfair.)
But sixteen days before the election was Monday, when DeFazio discovered who was funding the ads: Robert Mercer, the co-head of RenTec, who took over from quant legend Jim Simons earlier this year.
Why might he have an agenda?
Maybe because Mercer’s firm, Renaissance Technologies, is a quant fund. Defazio supports both the transaction tax, and raising the capital gains tax to normal income levels, both of which would diminish Mercer’s earnings.
Unfortunately, because Mercer funded anti-Defazio ads, did it anonymously at first, and because he’s a rich hedge fund manager, his plot might have worked against him.
Defazio got on Rachel Maddow’s show earlier this month, when the donor was still anonymous, because of the scandal. Around the same time, Robinson was invited on the show. It wasn’t pretty. She insinuates that “criminals” are behind the donation.
Defazio on the other hand, had a “softball love fest” with Maddow. Watch it by clicking here.
Watch the ad, which is played in the first few minutes of Rachel Maddow’s show shortly before she speaks with Robinson.
Read more about Mercer and his colleague, Peter Brown, who run RenTec by clicking here >
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.