Robert Mercer, who with his daughter Rebekah became known as a behind-the-scenes supporter of conservative causes, is resigning as co-chief executive of East Setauket hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, according to published reports.
Mercer sent a letter Thursday morning to investors in the firm saying he would relinquish the post as of Jan. 1 but would continue working on research for Renaissance, which pioneered the use of algorithms and high-speed trading by hedge funds, according to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Renaissance did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Robert Mercer has been a major donor to conservative causes and candidates, spending a reported $32 million on political races from 2010 through 2016, and was a major backer of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. His increased political involvement sparked protests from progressive activists and Democrats.
In a copy of the letter published online by the Journal, Mercer said he is relinquishing his management responsibilities at 71 years old, the same age at which Renaissance founder James Simons retired. The letter addressed his political views, which he said “have been the object of a great deal of scrutiny from the press.”
He said he supports conservatives who favor a smaller, less powerful government. He also denounced discrimination, which he called “abhorrent,” saying, “Of the many mischaracterizations made of me by the press, the most repugnant to me have been the intimations that I am a white supremacist or a member of some other noxious group.”
Mercer also noted the controversy over his association with Steve Bannon, the executive chairman of internet news site Breitbart News and former chief strategist in the Trump administration. Critics of Breitbart News have said it is a platform for extremist “alt-right” groups.
“I have great respect for Mr. Bannon, and from time to time I do discuss politics with him. However, I make my own decisions with respect to whom I support politically. Those decisions do not always align with Mr. Bannon’s,” the letter said.
He said he decided to sell his stake in Breitbart News to his daughters “for personal reasons.”
Mercer also addressed his support of alt-right writer Milo Yiannopoulos. “Actions of and statements by Mr. Yiannopoulos have caused pain and divisiveness . . . I was mistaken to have supported him,” the letter said.
In recent weeks, Sleeping Giants, a group of left-wing activists, called on universities and other institutional investors to cut ties to Renaissance because of Mercer’s political activities.
Mercer’s backing of Trump was seen as one of several significant factors in the Republican’s upset win in the 2016 election.
Mercer, originally a supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), switched to Trump in spring 2016.
Trump huddled with Rebekah Mercer at an East Hampton fundraiser in August 2016, when she reportedly pushed him to reshape his campaign. That led to the recruitment of Bannon and veteran Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway, who helped the Trump campaign regain its footing, according to several Republicans.
With Yancey Roy