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GOP billionaire donor Mercer leaves firm, sells stake in Breitbart News

LOS ANGELES (UPI) — Conservative billionaire donor Robert Mercer on Friday announced he will step down as co-CEO of a $97 billion investment fund and sell his stake in Breitbart News.

In a letter to investors, Mercer said his daughters will obtain his share of the conservative news outlet, which recently re-hired former White House strategist Steven Bannon as its executive chairman.

Mercer indicated in the letter that he and Bannon have experienced political differences.

“I have great respect for Mr. Bannon, and from time to time I do discuss politics with him,” Mercer wrote. “However, I make my own decisions with respect to whom I support politically. Those decisions do not always align with Mr. Bannon’s.”

Mercer’s investment firm, Renaissance Technologies, has recently come under pressure by Sleeping Giants, a liberal advocacy group that’s urged Mercer’s fund to pull its investment from Breitbart.

Think Progress published a list of investors to the hedge fund last month, which included Columbia University, the National Academy of Sciences and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Renaissance Technologies is estimated to have more than $97 billion in assets under management.

Mercer said in his letter he wants to distance him from polarizing figures — and singled out conservative commentator and former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulous.

“I supported Milo Yiannopoulos in the hope and expectation that his expression of views contrary to the social mainstream … would promote the type of open debate and freedom of thought that is being throttled on many American college campuses today,” Mercer wrote. “But in my opinion, actions of and statements by Mr. Yiannopoulos have caused pain and divisiveness.

“I was mistaken to have supported him, and for several weeks have been in the process of severing all ties with him.”

Mercer’s resignation is effective Jan. 1.

Mercer, 71, was a donor to President Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign. Filings with the Federal Election Commission show Mercer and his wife donated nearly $200,000 to Trump’s legal defense fund on May 9 — the same day Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, an element of the U.S. government’s investigation of Russia.

The Mercers are linked to the investigation through their involvement Trump’s campaign — and their $10 million stake in Cambridge Analytica, an analytics firm that helped the campaign target election ads last year, Newsweek reported.

The legal defense fund, from which members of the Republican Party can draw from, has helped Trump pay for attorneys related to the Russia probe.

Written by UPI writer Ed Adamczyk

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GOP billionaire donor Mercer leaves firm, sells stake in Breitbart News