Close allies of President Donald Trump, including Robert and Rebekah Mercer — the billionaire part-owners of conservative media outlet Breitbart News — are helping fund Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Republican challenger.

Seven of the dozen donors who gave Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis the maximum $4,950 donation allowed by law are also donors to Trump.

Both Robert and Rebekah Mercer donated the maximum amount possible to Malliotakis’s campaign, the first time either has donated in a New York City election, though the couple has previously funded efforts at the state level.

Malliotakis, who is in her third term in the Assembly, has struggled to raise money for the race against de Blasio, and the money from Trump backers could help fuel what has become the de Blasio campaign’s major line of attack against her candidacy — that casting a vote for Malliotakis is tantamount to voting for Donald Trump.

The Mercers, who live on Long Island, bankrolled the conservative nonprofit group “Reclaim New York,” which advocates for tax policy changes in Albany, and where Trump senior strategist Steve Bannon once sat on the group’s board.

Over the years, the Mercers have also given hundreds of thousands of dollars to New York state’s Conservative Party. And in 2014, Mercer contributed $1.55 million to a group called Rescue New York, an independent expenditure committee that supported Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino in his challenge to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The Mercer Family Foundation has also donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Success Academies, the charter school group headed by Eva Moskowitz.

A spokesman for the Mercers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Malliotakis, who is in her third term in the Assembly, has struggled to raise money for the race against de Blasio, and the money from Trump backers could help fuel what has become the de Blasio campaign’s major line of attack against her candidacy — that casting a vote for Malliotakis is tantamount to voting for Donald Trump.

On Monday, the de Blasio campaign sought to turn the Mercers’ donations to Malliotakis into a fundraising opportunity.

“Late last week, our Republican opponent filed her official fundraising report, and there are some things you should know about who is funding her campaign. Two names stand out immediately: billionaires Robert and Rebekah Mercer,” the campaign said in an email with the subject line “Breitbart + Bannon’s benefactor vs. de Blasio and you.”

“If you don’t know who they are, they are two of the biggest donors to Donald Trump’s presidential effort and helped place Steve Bannon on the campaign and in the White House. But more than that, they are key funders of the alt-right movement who have given millions of dollars to sustain the Breitbart news empire and even funded Milo Yiannopoulos’s speaking tour,” the de Blasio campaign email continued.

“Their pockets have no bottoms. Robert Mercer even has a multi-million dollar train set, so one can only imagine the value they place on putting a Trump acolyte at the helm of the largest and most diverse city in America,” the email said.

But the Mercers aren’t the only Malliotakis donors who’ve also given aid to Trump.

Malliotakis donor Lisa Addeo, who gave the $4,950 maximum, donated $785 to the Trump Make America Great Again Committee last year, and gave $2,610 to Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee in the fall of 2016.

Charles P. Joyce donated $165,400 to the Trump Victory Fund. Kevin B. Mannix donated $2,600 to the Trump Make America Great Again Committee and the Trump Campaign. And Las Vegas-based Malliotakis donor George Wells gave $800 to the Trump campaign.

Still, de Blasio has also been willing to take money from people who support Trump and conservative causes.

Trump supporter Peter S. Kalikow, president of the real estate firm H. J. Kalikow and Co., gave $5,000 to de Blasio’s now-defunct nonprofit Campaign for One New York in June of 2014, before becoming an enthusiastic backer of Trump’s presidential campaign.

Kalikow gave $449,000 this year to Trump’s Victory Fund, and tens of thousands of dollars to other Republican candidates and state committees in more than a dozen states, including swing states like North Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin and Florida. Kalikow and his wife Mary both donated the maximum to Malliotakis’s campaign.

A Kalikow spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Malliotakis, meanwhile, downplayed the Mercer contributions.

“They donated to my campaign,” Malliotakis said when asked about it at an unrelated event in Queens. They have a “vested interest in New York City and New York City’s well-being. And it has nothing to do with Trump. I’m sure there are many people who donate to the mayor who, maybe, donated to somebody else who he does not see eye-to-eye with all the time.”

Malliotakis was, perhaps, alluding to people who have donated to de Blasio and fellow Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo, with whom the mayor has a long-running feud. De Blasio also said, previously, he has received donations from supporters who sought favors from City Hall that were denied. He has reneged on a promise to detail those requests.

— Azi Paybarah contributed to this report.

Source: http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2017/07/17/trump-allies-aid-de-blasio-challenger-113426

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