With all of Trump’s focus lately on stirring up fears about dangerous immigrants crossing our Southern border, it is easy to forget that his campaign was also infused with Islamophobia. Do you remember when, during one of the presidential debates, Trump suggested that Syrian refugees were a Trojan horse bringing ISIS in to take over our country?
With that in mind, Open Secrets has just reported that a group called Secure America Now (SAN) was funded primarily by Robert Mercer to produce ads like this in the final weeks before the election:
The ads were not released for mass public consumption, but instead, “Secure America Now worked hand in hand with Facebook and Google to target their message at voters in swing states who were most likely to be receptive to them.”
While Open Secrets didn’t address the question of how SAC identified the swing state voters who would be most receptive to these ads, it is worth noting that Mercer is also the one who bankrolled Cambridge Analytica, and finding those voters was their claim to fame. What we have here is yet another example of the work that went on underground and out of the public eye to fear monger and elect Donald Trump.
The report at Open Secrets focuses on the fact that SAC is a “social welfare organization,” which, according to the U.S. tax code, are known as 501(c)(4)’s. These are nonprofit organizations whose contributions are not tax deductible, but whose donors can remain anonymous. They are allowed to engage in unlimited lobbying and can engage in political activities provided it isn’t their primary focus. In other words, the rules governing 501(c)(4)’s are as clear as mud.
I say all of that because it was the auditing of these organizations that turned into the IRS pseudo scandal during Obama’s presidency. Conservatives claimed that tea party groups were targeted when in fact, liberal groups were audited as well. To understand the concern, take a look at how these organizations have grown over the last decade.
When we talk about “dark money” in politics, this is one of the major contributors, and in 2016 billionaire Robert Mercer took advantage of that to promote his dark politics.