GunsHot Sheet

Financier Robert Mercer gets a badge; Colo. sheriff gets a $64,000 truck

Author: Marianne Goodland - April 16, 2018 - Updated: April 16, 2018

Billionaire Robert Mercer speaks on the phone during the 12th International Conference on Climate Change hosted by the Heartland Institute in 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Oliver Contreras/The Washington Post)

Robert Mercer — the billionaire financier tied to both President Donald Trump and to former Trump advisor Steve Bannon — has been given a volunteer sheriff’s badge by Yuma County Sheriff Chad Day of Yuma County.

That’s according to a story Monday in Bloomberg News.

Yuma County got a $64,000 Dodge Ram truck and $20,000 in TASERs from Mercer’s Law Enforcement Education Foundation (LEEF) in 2016.

Last week, an attorney for Day confirmed the sheriff granted Mercer a volunteer sheriff’s posse badge, which allows him to carry a concealed weapon anywhere in the country under a 2004 federal law.

According to a March report in Vanity Fair:

“The volunteer police badge became an alluring accessory for gun enthusiasts, especially in areas that seldom grant concealed-carry permits — areas like Suffolk County (New York), where Mercer lives.”

A budget presentation to Yuma County commissioners in 2016 explained the sheriff’s vehicle was supposed to be replaced three years earlier and would have cost the county about $40,000. The truck from the LEEF Foundation is “a very nice Dodge Ram 1500 Limited valued at $64,428.”

According to the foundation’s tax records, that represents just slightly less than half of its assets for 2015.

Minutes from a February 2016 county commission meeting noted that Day told commissioners the LEEF Foundation, “sponsored by Robert Mercer … has interest in funding a new pickup for the Sheriff’s Posse to be used by Sheriff Day.”

Day denied any quid pro quo for the volunteer badge. His lawyer told Bloomberg that Mercer “serves in certain roles as designated by the sheriff” from time to time.

Mercer’s son-in-law, George Wells, and business associate Peter Pukish, both officers at one time of the LEEF Foundation, also received Yuma County sheriff’s badges.

The arrangement, according to Bloomberg, was set up between Day and Mercer with the help of Dudley Brown, president of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. Day told commissioners at that February 2016 meeting that Brown had put him in touch with the foundation. Brown has not yet replied to a request for comment.

Mercer, 71, stepped down from his company, Renaissance Technologies, last year. Bannon told The New Yorker in March 2017 that Mercer and his daughter, Rebekkah, “laid the groundwork for the Trump revolution.” Irrefutably, when you look at the donors during the past four years, they have had the single biggest impact of anybody, including the Kochs.

Mercer financially backed Breitbart News, of which Bannon was formerly executive chairman, and the political-data firm Cambridge Analytica, currently embroiled in controversy over its use of Facebook user data.

Day is up for re-election in 2018 and faces fellow Republican Todd Combs of Wray in the June 26 primary.

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland is the chief legislative reporter for Colorado Politics. She's covered the Colorado General Assembly for 20 years, starting off in 1998 with the Silver & Gold Record, the editorially-independent newspaper at CU that was shuttered in 2009. She also writes for six rural newspapers in northeastern Colorado. Marianne specializes in rural issues, agriculture, water and, during election season, campaign finance. In her free time (ha!) she lives in Lakewood with her husband, Jeff; a cantankerous Shih-Tzu named Sophie; and Gunther the cat. She is also an award-winning professional harpist.