Billionaire investor and conservative donor Robert Mercer announced Thursday he is stepping down from his role as co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies, a major hedge fund firm, and that he is selling his stake in the website Breitbart News to his daughters.
In a letter to employees, Mercer said he wanted to set the record straight because he had become “the object of a great deal of scrutiny from the press.” He added that he found discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, or gender ”abhorrent.”
Mercer specifically took aim at far-right troll and former Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos, saying he “was mistaken to have supported him, and for several weeks have been in the process of severing all ties with him.”
“In my opinion, actions of and statements by Mr. Yiannopoulos have caused pain and divisiveness undermining the open and productive discourse that I had hoped to facilitate,” he said.
Mercer, 71, initially backed Sen. Ted Cruz in the fight for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, pumping $13 million into a super PAC supporting the Texan. But as Donald Trump emerged as the nominee, Mercer and his family shifted their financial support to him.
In his letter, Mercer also addressed his relationship with Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist who now leads Breitbart News as its executive chairman.
“The press has also intimated that my politics marches in lockstep with Steve Bannon’s,” Mercer said. “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.”
While Mercer has decided to sever his ties with Breitbart News, his three daughters ― including major Republican donor Rebekah Mercer ― will continue to support the website, which traffics in white nationalist sentiment.