Rebekah and Robert Mercer (Image: Youtube.com)
An organization that calls itself the “Job Creators Network” has put up a billboard in Times Square that blasts U.S. House Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for Amazon’s decision to pull its new headquarters out of New York City. Fox News host Laura Ingraham tweeted about it yesterday:
What is the Job Creators Network, and who is behind it? The short answer is that it’s a Trump-tied, billionaire-backed front group associated with an infamous right-wing public relations executive. It’s part of a network of other astroturf groups that all fight tooth-and-nail to defend elite interests against progressive efforts to regulate corporate power – and all while posing as defenders of “Main Street.”
Perhaps, then, it’s no surprise that the Job Creators Network is using Amazon’s decision to pull out of NYC – which many, of course, viewed as an egregious example of corporate entitlement – as an excuse to go after a progressive politician who is seen as a leader in the growing effort to curb corporate power.
Here are a few things worth knowing about the powerful forces – the billionaires, big Trump donors, and conservative lobbyists – that are actually behind the Job Creators Network:
- The Mercer family is a big funder. Hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah Mercer are major donors to the Job Creators Network. For example, the 990 statements of the Mercer Family Foundation show that they gave the Job Creators Network $100,000 each in 2013, 2014, and 2016. The Mercers, of course, prop up Breitbart News (which has touted the Job Creators Network), have been affiliated with Stephen Bannon, and were major backers of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
- Bernie Marcus – the ex-Home Depot billionaire CEO & big Trump donor – is a co-founder. Bernie Marcus, worth $5.4 billion, co-founded the Job Creators Network in 2010 with a half-million dollar donation, and his family foundation gave it $1 million in 2015. Marcus is the founder and former CEO of Home Depot. He has shelled out at least $7 million to Donald Trump, making him one of Trump’s biggest donors. FEC records shows he given over $19 million since late 2013 in federal soft money donations alone – including $530,000 to John Bolton’s Super PAC. (The Job Creators Network uploaded a Fox News segment on its Youtube page last month with Marcus railing against Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal of a 70% top marginal tax rate).
- It’s tied to a notorious PR executive who runs a whole network of other corporate-backed front groups. The Job Creators Network is tied to Rick Berman, who receives millions in corporate money to run a network of anti-worker and conservative front groups, such as the Center for Union Facts, an anti-labor front group. Berman has been tied to the Job Creators Network in numerous reports. The 2016 990 form of the Job Creators Network Foundation shows it paid Berman $476,000 in 2016 for “media and consultant communications” services, while the 2017 990 form of Job Creators Network Inc. shows it paid Berman a whopping $2,539,688. It’s unclear what role Berman is currently playing with the Job Creators Network.
- Andy Puzder is a board member. Puzder, the former CEO of CKE Restaurants, which owns the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s chains, is one of six board members of the Job Creators Network. The group applauded Trump’s nomination of Puzder for Labor Secretary – before Puzder withdrew from the nomination because of a slew of scandals, including domestic abuse allegations. Puzder has a fervently anti-worker record – he was even accused of violations by workers at his own chains.
- Conservative billionaire Philip Anschutz – who backed Neil Gorsuch – is a big donor. Philip Anschutz, worth about $12 billion, is an oil, entertainment, and real estate mogul who was a key backer of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. Anschutz’s gave $50,000 in both 2014 and 2015 to the Job Creators Network – and he also funds a host of other far-right groups and think tanks, such as the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society
Note: a previous version of this article that said the Job Creators Network’s 2017 990 form doesn’t refer to Rick Berman was based on the wrong 990 form from that year. The article has been corrected to show that the group paid Berman’s firm $2,539,688 in 2017.