Top pro-O’Dea donor, heir to Golden Age banking fortune, writes about ‘slavery redux’

Facing an uphill battle to unseat incumbent U.S. Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, Republican Senate hopeful Joe O’Dea has received little help thus far from deep-pocketed GOP national campaign groups.

But as Election Day approaches, he gets a big boost from a megadonor closer to home: the Wyoming heir to a 19th-century banking fortune who wrote in a self-published autobiography that blacks are “belligerent” and “unwilling to pitch to improve their own situation.

Timothy Mellon, the grandson of banking magnate Andrew Mellon, donated $4 million to the American Policy Fund, a super PAC that spent heavily throughout the year on ads supporting O’Dea and attacking his opponents, according to reports from the Federal Election Commission. Super PACs are allowed to accept unlimited contributions from individuals and businesses, but are prohibited from coordinating with candidates or their campaigns.

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Mellon’s $4 million is the largest single contribution in support of O’Dea’s candidacy to date. It exceeds both the $2.6 million the Denver construction CEO has donated or loaned to his own campaign since announcing his run last year, and the $1.25 million that the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC affiliated with Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, said it made a donation to the American Policy Fund on Monday.

Mellon, 80, has been a prolific donor to conservative causes, donating more than $90 million to Republican political campaigns since 2018, according to FEC records. Last year he donated over $53 million in stock to a fund established by Texas Governor Greg Abbott to finance the construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border.

O’Dea’s campaign did not respond to questions about O’Dea’s relationship with Mellon or whether he shares Mellon’s views on black Americans.

In the final chapters of his self-published 2015 autobiography, Mellon attacked the federal government’s “lavish spending” and the “fiscal black hole of Medicare,” blaming the “liberal onslaught” of safety net programs. social security in the 1960s for what he called “slavery”. redux. The content of the book was reported for the first time by the Washington Post in 2020.

“Black people, despite heroic efforts by the ‘Establishment’ to right past wrongs, have become even more belligerent and unwilling to intervene to improve their own circumstances,” Mellon wrote. “People like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have worked endlessly to fan the flames.”

According to FEC Records.

In a statement, Colorado Democratic Party spokesman Nico Delgado said Mellon’s contribution proves O’Dea would be “a rubber stamp for the MAGA agenda.”

“Joe O’Dea would vote for Trump in 2024, he thinks Trump is not responsible for January 6, and now he’s backed by a racist Trump mega-donor who is responsible for funding Trump’s medieval border wall,” Delgado said.

“The Mellons have never been so rich”

After taking over the Pittsburgh bank founded by his father in the 1870s, Andrew Mellon built a monopolistic industrial empire and gradually amassed one of the largest fortunes of the Gilded Age. He then served as U.S. Treasury Secretary under three Republican presidents, a term that ended with the stock market crash of 1929 and the onset of the Great Depression.

Andrew Mellon died in 1937, but the family’s wealth grew steadily. A 2014 Forbes magazine headline proclaimed that “175 years later, the Mellons have never been richer”.

Timothy Mellon’s greatest political contributions to Trump and Congressional Republicans have followed the passage of a $1.5 trillion package of tax cuts by the GOP-controlled Congress in 2017. Shortly after the bill took effect, Mellon’s company announced a one-time bonus of $1,100 for employees to highlight what a Press release called the “downstream effects of expansion and wealth creation among all citizens”.

Mellon’s 116-page autobiography features memories of a childhood spent flying to and from boarding school in his father’s private jet and a visit by Queen Elizabeth II to the family farm in Virginia. In the 1980s he became an investor in several railroad and aviation companies, although his best-known venture, a resurrection of the airline brand Pan Am, ended in failure in the 2000s.

In a chapter titled “Slavery Redux,” Mellon draws on racist stereotypes about welfare programs and attacks liberals for what he describes as “encouraging people to stay on the government’s teat”.

“They became slaves to a new Master, Uncle Sam,” Mellon wrote. “For delivering their votes in the federal election, they are getting more and more freebies: food stamps, cell phones, WIC payments, Obamacare, and so on. The largesse is financed by the hard-working people, fewer and fewer, who are too honest or too proud to sink into this quagmire.

Attack Ads

With his $4 million contribution to the American Policy Fund on Sept. 15, Mellon more than tripled the super PAC’s previous budget. Within days, the group reported that it had booked over $2.4 million in TV ads attacking Bennet, and followed that up with another $1.2 million spent this month.

The ads blast Bennet on inflation, arguing that Democrats under President Joe Biden fueled rising costs with “bigger government and more spending.”

O’Dea presented himself to voters as a moderate, particularly on social issues, and told an interviewer last week that “I don’t see color.” But his views on labor and social spending – including exhortations to “get (workers) off the couch” – aligning with much of the maker-and-taker rhetoric in Mellon’s book.

“I want to stand up for American workers,” O’Dea said at a rally of Republicans in Denver ahead of the GOP primary in June. “When I talk about working Americans, I’m talking about the middle class, small businesses, single parents, retirees — those of us who play by the rules. We have some things in common. We contribute. We produce.”

“We are the ones paying for this tax-and-spend spree that Washington has been on for far too long,” he added. “We’re the ones they’re taking money from to do these wild policies.”

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