Mercer exemplifies a new breed of activist donors that has risen since the Supreme Court kicked off a flood of big money into elections in 2010. As one of the most influential figures in Trump’s orbit, she threatens to undercut the candidate’s insistence that he is free from the influence of elite contributors. And her access shows how donors can easily move between a campaign and a super PAC that is supposed to operate independently.
In response to a question about Mercer’s influence on the campaign, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said in a statement: “The only special interest Mr. Trump is beholden to is the American people.”
The 42-year-old former Wall Street trader is not your typical mega-donor, and not just because of the vast wealth of her father, who earned an estimated $150 million last year, according to Forbes.