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New York Billionaire Spends Big Yet Again To Aid Art Robinson In Race Against Peter DeFazio

For the third election in a row, New York hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer is coming to the aid of Republican Art Robinson in his latest challenge to Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore.

New disclosure reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show a super-PAC that has received $1 million from Mercer later spent $675,000 on online advertising, as well as direct mail and other spending aimed at unseating DeFazio and electing Robinson to the 4th Congressional District seat in southwestern Oregon.

Mercer financed independent advertising campaigns to aid Robinson in his 2010 and 2012 races against DeFazio, both of which Robinson lost. Mercer reported spending $640,000 in 2010 and $438,000 in 2012, mostly on TV ads.

This time, the money trail is less clear because Mercer was one of several wealthy contributors to the Ending Spending Action Fund, which is known as a super-PAC because it is set up to receive contributions of unlimited size. Under federal election law, the fund can spend as much as it wants on advertising in a House or Senate race as long as it stays independent of the candidates.

The super-PAC reported raising $18.4 million this year and has spent most of its money aiding Republican Senate candidates.

Carly Gabrielson, DeFazio's campaign manager, said it seemed clear that Mercer's donation was aimed at getting the fund to do advertising in the DeFazio-Robinson race. Mercer clearly financed independent campaigns to help Robinson in the last two elections and has also contributed more than $1.4 million to a scientific institute Robinson has set up at his Cave Junction ranch.

Mercer has also been a big donor to other super-PACs that have had nothing to do with this race. In early September, he gave $2.5 million to the Freedom Partners Action Fund, a group connected to the billionaire Koch brothers that had run a major TV advertising campaign against Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., in August and September.

Robinson, who is also chairman of the Oregon Republican Party,l said Saturday that he was unaware of the independent expenditure campaign and was thinking that Mercer would not finance a similar effort this year.

Both Gabrielson and Robinson said they have yet to see any of the online advertising or direct mail that was mentioned in the FEC disclosure reports.

In a statement, DeFazio charged that Robinson wants to eliminate taxes and get rid of regulations for Wall Street billionaires like Mercer, who "wants to influence the election to help the guy who will do his bidding."

Robinson said DeFazio's charge was a lie and that he hasn't advocated eliminating taxes or regulations "on these Wall Street billionaires."

Absent the influence of the Ending Spending Action Fund, DeFazio has had a major financial advantage in the race. The congressman has raised nearly $1.2 million since the start of 2013, compared to $543,000 for Robinson.

-- Jeff Mapes

As Independent as Oregon.

Peter DeFazio's common-sense proposals aim to create good-paying jobs, expand access to affordable health care and develop options outside of the for-profit marketplace, restore economic and educational opportunities, hold government accountable and tip the scales of inequality back in favor of hard-working Oregonians.

Meet Peter