Robert Mercer, Co-CEO Of Renaissance, Sued By Former Employee Alleging Retaliation Over Trump
Back in February we reported of a striking development taking place at Renaissance, arguably the world’s most successful (and according to many, politically connected and powerful) hedge fund, where one of its key employees, David Magerman, “mutinied” against co-CEO Robert Mercer, the man who together with his daughter Rebekah have been instrumental in getting Trump elected, accusing him of engaging in actions that would harm the future of America.
Following Trump’s election Magerman – a research scientist who worked at the hedge fund for two decades and a registered Democrat who calls himself a centrist, and who had complained to colleagues about Mercer’s role as a prominent booster of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign – started to become more vocal at the office about his disdain for Mercer’s activities, which resulted in this awkward phone call with his boss, as reported by The Wall Street Journal
Magerman says he was in his home office in suburban Philadelphia earlier this month when the phone rang. His boss, hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer, was on the line.“I hear you’re going around saying I’m a white supremacist,” Mr. Mercer said. “That’s ridiculous.”
“Those weren’t my exact words,” Mr. Magerman said he told Mr. Mercer, stammering and then explaining his concerns about Mr. Trump’s policy positions, rhetoric and cabinet choices.
“If what you’re doing is harming the country then you have to stop.”
Following this rather “uncomfortable” phone call with his billionaire boss, as well as the real possibility of getting fired, one would think the democrat would have prudently decided to keep his mouth shut. But Magerman did no such thing. In fact, he ramped up his efforts to show Mercer that he’s not going to stand by and let the politics of Breitbart News ruin the country. There were more phone calls:
Magerman says he first spoke with Mr. Mercer in January, when Mr. Magerman, who donates to local schools, called Mr. Mercer to ask for the opportunity to reach out to Rebekah Mercer to offer the administration help on education policy. During the call, they talked politics, disagreeing about some of the administration’s early steps. After airing his concerns with others at the company, Mr. Magerman received the second call from Mr. Mercer two weeks ago.
The conversation grew strained. After telling Mr. Mercer to stop harming the country, he said Mr. Mercer responded that his goal had been to defeat Mrs. Clinton and that he wouldn’t remain very involved in politics.
“How can you say you’re not involved?” Mr. Magerman said, citing an outside group Rebekah Mercer was involved in that was aimed at boosting Mr. Trump’s agenda.
From that point on, relations between the two Renaissance workers devolved further, and eventually Magerman was suspended without pay in mid-February and could “no longer have contact with the company.” That’s when the first WSJ story about the conflict inside Renaissance emerged once Magerman decided to go public. As a reminder, Mercer had emerged as one of the most influential Republican donors in the 2016 election, giving at least $2 million to Make America Number 1, a political action committee that began backing Trump in July. His daughter, Rebekah Mercer, was named to Trump’s transition team in November.
Fast forward to today, when as Bloomberg reports Robert Mercer was sued by Magerman, claiming he was fired for calling Mercer a racist and criticizing his support of Trump. The suit by David Magerman, a research scientist who worked at the hedge fund for two decades, alleges he was wrongfully fired April 29 after his relationship with Mercer and his family became toxic. For example, Magerman alleges that Mercer’s daughter called him “pond scum” at a celebrity poker tournament.
Mercer, a major investor in Breitbart News, advised Trump to hire two of his family’s associates, Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, according to the complaint filed May 5 in federal court in Pennsylvania. Mercer’s support “tainted” the hedge fund, while internal policies that prohibit “politely” speaking out in public are “unfair and untenable,” Magerman said.
Bloomberg then recounts the public details about the deteriorating relationship between Magerman and Mercer, most of which had been previously noted on this site:
The dispute started on Jan. 16 when Magerman called Mercer and asked to have a conversation about his support of Trump, according to the complaint. During the chat, Mercer said the U.S. had started going in the wrong direction “after the passage of the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s,” according to the complaint. Mercer also said that black Americans “were doing fine” in the late 1950s and are the “only racist people remaining in the U.S.,” according to the complaint.
“Magerman was stunned by these comments and pushed back,” according to the complaint. Reminded of the racial segregation that existed at the time, Mercer allegedly responded by saying those issues weren’t important.
After the phone call, Magerman complained about Mercer’s comments to Co-Chief Executive Officer Peter Brown, who “expressed disbelief” and urged the two men to speak again, according to the complaint. Magerman agreed and called Mercer back on Feb. 5. “I hear you’re going around saying I’m a white supremacist,” Mercer said, according to the complaint. During the call, Mercer “scoffed” at the idea that segregation was degrading and destructive, Magerman said.
Then there was the famous celebrity poker tournament, previously reported by the WSJ where things only got worse:
On April 20, Magerman attended a celebrity poker tournament in New York City, where many Renaissance staffers were present, according to the suit. Magerman told the Wall Street Journal that he attended the event to repair his frayed relationship with the firm, according to an April 28 article. Rebekah Mercer allegedly confronted Magerman, calling him “pond scum” and saying karma “is a bitch,” according to the complaint. Magerman was fired April 29, according to the suit. Magerman seeks “substantial damages,” his lawyer said.
Bloomberg notes that while the employee handbook bars workers from disparaging the hedge fund or any of its workers, such policies are “illegal and unenforceable,” according to the complaint. It is unclear why one would make that assumption. In any case, one day after the Wall Street Journal article was published, Magerman was suspended without pay, according to the suit.
In light of the implied allegations in the suit, namely that a core employee was terminated due to his opposition for Mercer’s support of Donald Trump, and perhaps more importantly, because it will shed a bright light on what has traditionally been one of the most secretive hedge funds in the world, expect this case to be very closely watched by both market participatants and political commentators. It is also why Renaissance may seek to settle quickly, even if in the process it open itself up to lawsuits by other potentially disgruntled democratic employees.
Full lawsuit below.