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Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Bernard Marcus

The Home Depot: Co-founder, former CEO
Marcus Foundation: Founder and director
Republican Jewish Coalition: Board of directors

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Bernard Marcus is the co-founder and former CEO of The Home Depot, a chain of home improvement stores. Since retiring from the company in 2002, the billionaire has devoted his energies to philanthropy—with much of his cash going to neoconservative groups—campaign fundraising, and right-wing political activism.

In addition to donating millions of dollars for autism and cancer research, various Jewish religious organizations, and public works projects in his home state of Georgia,[1] Marcus has also emerged as a major funder of numerous Republican and neoconservative organizations. According to tax filings, Marcus’ eponymous foundation has supported hawkish and neoconservative-linked groups like the American Enterprise Institute, Christians United for Israel, Friends of the IDF, the Hoover Institution, the Hudson Institute, the Israel Project, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, the Manhattan Institute, and the Middle East Media Research Institute, as well as other conservative groups like Judicial Watch and the Philanthropy Roundtable.[2] He also sits on the board of directors for the Republican Jewish Coalition.[3]

Support for Donald trump

Marcus was the second biggest donor to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.[4]

During the campaign, he wrote, “As a GOP donor who stood steadfastly behind Jeb Bush—and who has contributed to candidates for a generation—I urge all Republicans to stand up and be counted in support for Donald Trump.”[5]

Marcus also offered steadfast support for Steve Bannon, the Trump adviser who was frequently charged with anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry. He said that “what is being done to Steve Bannon is a Shonda(the Yiddish word for ‘disgrace’ or ‘scandal’).”

The Anti-Defamation League’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt charged that Bannon harbored anti-Semitic and white nationalist views that are “hostile to core American values.” But Marcus responded, saying Bannon was a “passionate Zionist and supporter of Israel” and that “he opened a Breitbart office in Israel to ensure that the true pro-Israel story would get out.”[6]

He has also called the nuclear deal with Iran “deadly, deadly treaty” that should have gotten a “full vote by the full Congress” and an “abrogation of the congress’s control.” It is not, in fact, a treaty, a point which was raised frequently by the deal’s critics.[7]

Marcus was one of the quickest and largest responders to Trump’s call for donations for the mid-term elections of 2018. According to one report, Marcus “contributed $7 million to pro-Trump Super PACs, $500,000 to the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), and $2 million the Senate Leadership Fund (SLF).” The CLF and SLF are fundraising arms for the Republican Party.[8]

According to one report, Marcus and fellow right wing mega-donor, Sheldon Adelson, “currently account for 56% of all donations to the CLF for the current cycle,” as of May 14, 2018.[9]

Funding Neocons

Marcus has been a particularly generous funder of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a neoconservative advocacy organization that has promoted war with Iran and Syria. He donated over half a million dollars to help the organization get off the ground in the early 2000s,[10] increasing his support dramatically later. A 2013 Salonarticle reported that Marcus was among a handful of Republican “heavyweight donors, fundraisers, and outspoken critics of the Obama White House’s foreign policy” that have provided the bulk of FDD’s funding.[11]

A July 2014 article in The Nationreported that Marcus was one of the primary funders of a small group of hawkish “pro-Israel” organizations in Washington pushing a hardline on Iran. Between 2008 and 2011, Marcus contributed $10.7 million to FDD, making him the largest funder of the organization during those years. He also gave $650,000 to the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute; $2.45 million to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee between 2007 and 2012; and an additional $2.1 million to FDD in 2012.[12]

Marcus is also an active promoter of U.S.-Israeli relations, donating liberally to the America-Israel Friendship League[13]—a nonprofit co-founded by the trailblazing neoconservative Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson—as well as serving on the boards of the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce[14] and the Israeli Democracy Institute, a Jerusalem-based think tank he helped found.[15]

In November 2014, Marcus was an attendee at a gathering of prominent Jewish American donors in New York City hosted by the far-right Zionist Organization of America. The event, an apparent attempt by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to court “pro-Israel” donors, featured a numerous hardline pro-Israel and Christian Right figures, including Alan Dershowitz, Christians United for Israel chairman John Hagee, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, among others.[16] “A Chamberlain in the White House,” Marcus said about President Obama at the event, according to Haaretz.[17]

Big Business

Marcus’ often couches his support for conservative politicians in pro-business, anti-labor terms. During the Obama-Romney presidential election, for example, Marcus told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that the reelection of Obama would sow “despair” among the U.S. business community. Business owners “are certain about one thing,” Marcus said, “that if [Obama]’s elected, taxes will go up. … They know that the regulations are going to be there. And there isn’t a firm out there that’s not going to be unionized. And if every firm is unionized, the free market is finished in the United States.”[18]That year, Marcus donated the maximum legal amount to the Mitt Romneycampaign and gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to other Republican campaigns and campaign committees.[19]

Marcus often speaks in apocalyptic terms when discussing big business. In 2009, on a call with business leaders and conservative activists organizing against the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA)—a bill that would have made it easier to organize a union—Marcus warned, “This is the demise of a civilization. This is how a civilization disappears. I am sitting here as an elder statesman and I’m watching this happen and I don’t believe it.” Soliciting funds from people on the call to prevent the United States from “turning into France,” Marcus fumed that business leaders who hadn’t yet donated to anti-union Republicans should be “shot” and “thrown out of their goddamn jobs.”[20]

A few years later, as hundreds of “Occupy” protests challenged the corporate influence in politics, Marcus helped to organize the so-called “Job Creators Alliance,” a nonprofit group that, according to Buzz Flash, “aims to counter Occupy Wall Street-inspired talk about economic inequality, fair taxation, greed and Wall Street’s predilection for ripping off almost everyone, by blanketing the nation’s airwaves with messages about how wonderful the wealthy are.”[21]In an interview shortly after the launch of the group, Marcus referred to Occupy protesters as “imbeciles” and said that business leaders who don’t organize to oppose them “deserve what they’re going to get.”[22]

 

SOURCES

[1]GiveSmart.org, Bernard Marcus donor profile, https://www.givesmart.org/Stories/Donors/Bernie-Marcus.

[2]Guidestar.org, Marcus Foundation, 2011 990, http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2011/581/815/2011-581815651-08ba86c1-F.pdf.

[3]RJC, Board of Directors, Bernard Marcus profile, http://www.rjchq.org/2012/07/bernard-marcus-board-of-directors/.

[4]Megan Janetsky, “Trump’s top donors: Where are they now?” OpenSecrets.org, January 18, 2018, https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2018/01/trump-donors-1-year-later/

[5]Bernard Marcus, “Why I Stand With Donald Trump,” Real  Clear Politics, June 1, 2016, https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2016/06/01/why_i_stand_with_donald_trump_130727.html

[6]Allison Kaplan Sommer, “Bannon a ‘Passionate Zionist and Supporter of Israel,’ Says Top Jewish Trump Donor,” Haaretz, November 16, 2016, https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/.premium-trump-donor-bannon-a-passionate-zionist-supporter-of-israel-1.5462186

[7]Eli Clifton, “Are Billionaire Donors Driving Trump’s Iran Policy?” Lobelog, September 27, 2017, https://lobelog.com/are-billionaire-donors-driving-trumps-iran-policy/

[8]Eli Clifton, “Follow The Money: Three Billionaires Paved Way For Trump’s Iran Deal Withdrawal,” Lobelog, May 8, 2018, , https://lobelog.com/three-billionaires-paved-way-for-trumps-iran-deal-withdrawal/

[9]Jim Lobe and Eli Clifton, “Is GOP Mideast Policy “Bought And Paid For” By Likudist Republican Group?” Lobelog, May 14, 2018, https://lobelog.com/is-gop-mideast-policy-bought-and-paid-for-by-likudist-republican-group/

[10]Eli Clifton, “Documents Shed Light On Those Underwriting The Foundation For Defense Of Democracies,” Think Progress, July 19, 2011, http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/07/19/271431/fdd-donors/.

[11]Eli Clifton, “Home Depot founder’s quiet $10 million right-wing investment,” Salon, August 5, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/08/05/home_depot_founder%E2%80%99s_quiet_10_million_right_wing_investment/.

[12]Eli Clifton and Ali Gharib, “How the Anti-Iran Lobby Machine Dominates Capitol Hill,” The Nation, July 15, 2014, http://www.thenation.com/article/180664/how-anti-iran-lobby-machine-dominates-capitol-hill?page=full.

[13]RJC, Board of Directors, Bernard Marcus profile, http://www.rjchq.org/2012/07/bernard-marcus-board-of-directors/.

[14]American-Israel Chamber of Commerce, board of directors, Bernard Marcus profile, http://www.aiccse.org/about-aicc/board-of-directors/board-members-2/bernard-marcus-2.

[15]Israeli Democracy Institute, board of directors, Bernard Marcus profile, http://en.idi.org.il/about-idi/board-of-directors/mr-bernard-(bernie)-marcus/.

[16]Chemi Shalev, “Sharp dressers, tons of food and heaps of right-wing hyperbole at ZOA gala in N.Y.,” Haaretz, November 24, 2014, http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/west-of-eden/.premium-1.628156.

[17]Chemi Shalev, “Sharp dressers, tons of food and heaps of right-wing hyperbole at ZOA gala in N.Y.,” Haaretz, November 24, 2014, http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/west-of-eden/.premium-1.628156.

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Sources

[1] GiveSmart.org, Bernard Marcus donor profile, https://www.givesmart.org/Stories/Donors/Bernie-Marcus.

[2] Guidestar.org, Marcus Foundation, 2011 990, http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2011/581/815/2011-581815651-08ba86c1-F.pdf.

[3] RJC, Board of Directors, Bernard Marcus profile, http://www.rjchq.org/2012/07/bernard-marcus-board-of-directors/.

[4] Eli Clifton, “Documents Shed Light On Those Underwriting The Foundation For Defense Of Democracies,” Think Progress, July 19, 2011,http://thinkprogress.org/security/2011/07/19/271431/fdd-donors/.

[5] Eli Clifton, “Home Depot founder’s quiet $10 million right-wing investment,” Salon, August 5, 2013,http://www.salon.com/2013/08/05/home_depot_founder%E2%80%99s_quiet_10_million_right_wing_investment/.

[6] Eli Clifton and Ali Gharib, “How the Anti-Iran Lobby Machine Dominates Capitol Hill,” The Nation, July 15, 2014,http://www.thenation.com/article/180664/how-anti-iran-lobby-machine-dominates-capitol-hill?page=full.

[7] Brian Solomon, “Home Depot Co-Founder: Obama Re-Election Will Cause ‘Despair,’” Forbes, April 9, 2012,http://www.forbes.com/sites/briansolomon/2012/04/09/home-depot-co-founder-obama-re-election-will-cause-despair/.

[8] Eli Clifton, “Home Depot founder’s quiet $10 million right-wing investment,” Salon, August 5, 2013,http://www.salon.com/2013/08/05/home_depot_founder%E2%80%99s_quiet_10_million_right_wing_investment/; Forbes, Bernard Marcus profile,http://www.forbes.com/profile/bernard-marcus/.

[9] Sam Stein, “Bailout Recipients Hosted Call To Defeat Key Labor Bill,” Huffington Post, February 27, 2009, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/01/27/bank-of-america-hosted-an_n_161248.html.

[10] Bill Berkowitz, “Billionaires Create Organization to “Prove” That They Are Victims. Let Them Eat Rolexes!” BuzzFlash, January 3, 2012, http://www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/item/11254-billionaires-create-organization-to-prove-that-they-are-victims-let-them-eat-rolexes.

[11] Max Abelson, “Bankers Join Billionaires to Debunk ‘Imbecile’ Attack on Top 1%” Bloomberg, December 20, 2011, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-20/bankers-join-billionaires-to-debunk-imbecile-attack-on-top-1-.html.

[12] RJC, Board of Directors, Bernard Marcus profile, http://www.rjchq.org/2012/07/bernard-marcus-board-of-directors/.

[13] American-Israel Chamber of Commerce, board of directors, Bernard Marcus profile, http://www.aiccse.org/about-aicc/board-of-directors/board-members-2/bernard-marcus-2.

[14] Israeli Democracy Institute, board of directors, Bernard Marcus profile, http://en.idi.org.il/about-idi/board-of-directors/mr-bernard-(bernie)-marcus/.

[15] Chemi Shalev, “Sharp dressers, tons of food and heaps of right-wing hyperbole at ZOA gala in N.Y.,” Haaretz, November 24, 2014,http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/west-of-eden/.premium-1.628156.

[16] Chemi Shalev, “Sharp dressers, tons of food and heaps of right-wing hyperbole at ZOA gala in N.Y.,” Haaretz, November 24, 2014,http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/west-of-eden/.premium-1.628156.


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Bernard Marcus Résumé

AFFILIATIONS
Marcus Foundation: Founder and director
Republican Jewish Coalition: Board of directors
Job Creators Alliance: Founding member
Israeli Democracy Institute: Co-founder, board of directors
American-Israel Chamber of Commerce: Board of directors
Business Executives for National Security: Former member
BUSINESS
Home Depot: Co-founder, former CEO
EDUCATION
Rutgers: Degree in pharmacy

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Bernard Marcus News Feed

The Movement to Suppress and Impoverish Critics of Israel is Racist - Dissident VoiceBradley Jones - leadercourier-times.com: Obituaries - Leadercourier-times.comMueller Says Manafort Lied About Contacts With Trump Officials - WRAL.comBernie Marcus Keeps Us Spellbound - Atlanta Jewish TimesBradley A. Jones – Jefferson, SD; formerly of Iowa Falls – Mix 94.7 KMCH - kmch.comGo Inside Opening Night of Lynn Nottage's Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine Off-Broadway - Playbill.comFantasy Football: Early PPR rankings for Playoff Week 15 - 11Alive.com WXIAWho is Arthur Blank? Billionaire 'in talks' with Mike Ashley over Newcastle United takeover - Shields GazetteDougherty County Jail Report: Dec. 6-12, 2018 | Local News - The Albany HeraldFollow the Money: Three Billionaires Paved Way for Trump's Iran Deal Withdrawal - LobeLogFlood politics under capitalism - Freedom Socialist PartyBillionaire Bernard Marcus Gives $75 Million To Atlanta Hospital - ForbesFather Bernard Berger, 79 - Grand Island IndependentBillions Left to Give: The Latest Big Move by Home Depot Co-founder Bernie Marcus - Inside PhilanthropyWhy getting out of debt can save your marriage - NBC NewsU.S. Opinion on Israel Doesn't Match the Politics - LobeLogNorth Medford crowns 2, Eagles 4th at GP Winter Kickoff - Mail TribuneErie County Real Estate Transactions - Buffalo NewsFabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine extends again at Pershing Square Signature Center - New York Theatre GuidePierpaolo Piccioli, Clare Waight Keller Win Big at Fashion Awards - The Business of Fashion

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