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Scientists Rebel Over a Trump Ally at the Natural History Museum

Such questions have been raised lately in reference to stories linking the Sackler circle of relatives, distinguished cultural donors, to the corporate that produces OxyContin, the robust painkiller that has been concerned about opioid overdoses. And some objected to the renaming of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s fountain plaza after the conservative philanthropist David H. Koch in 2014 (he gave $65 million).

“A political litmus test for who should serve can be very destructive to a nonprofit institution,” stated Reynold Levy, the former president of Lincoln Center. “As long as the mission and important portions of the program are supported by the trustee, what they do in the political world shouldn’t be relevant.”

A an identical effort by way of scientists, in 2015, referred to as on the museum to chop ties with Mr. Koch, then a trustee. Less than a yr later, having served on the board for 23 years, Mr. Koch resigned. At the time, each Mr. Koch and the museum stated that the resignation was once unrelated to the power marketing campaign.


Ms. Mercer in Washington ultimate yr. She has been on the board of the American Museum of Natural History since 2013.

Oliver Contreras for The Washington Post, by means of Getty Images

In March ultimate yr, a crew of staff filed court cases with the museum’s human sources division in an try to spur an inner dialog about Ms. Mercer’s function on the board, however not anything got here of it, consistent with one particular person concerned about the effort who declined to be known for worry of repercussions.

The museum emphasised that scientists and educators at the museum make selections about medical and academic content material, now not trustees and donors.

“We believe that human-induced climate change is well-supported by scientific evidence and is one of the most serious issues currently facing our planet,” the commentary stated. “We are deeply committed to presenting evidence-based, scientific information about climate change to a broad public.”

The newest push to oust Ms. Mercer from the museum board was once spearheaded by way of the Natural History Museum, a nonprofit touring museum that still led the 2015 power to take away Mr. Koch.

“Museums are among the most trusted sources of information in society,” the group’s co-founder and director, Beka Economopoulos, stated in an e-mail. “Having a science denier and top funder of climate science denial campaigns in a leadership position at a science museum undermines the institution’s credibility.”

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Ms. Mercer, a daughter of the hedge fund mogul Robert Mercer, has been on the museum’s board since 2013. The Mercer Family Foundation has lengthy supported a number of conservative reasons, together with Breitbart News, the influential right-wing website online based by way of Andrew Breitbart and till lately run by way of Stephen Ok. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former leader strategist.

The Mercer circle of relatives publicly distanced itself from Mr. Bannon this month after Mr. Bannon’s provocative remarks about Mr. Trump have been reported in Michael Wolff’s guide, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”

The Mercers had funded Breitbart News via a $2 million donation to a crew referred to as the Government Accountability Institute, which Mr. Bannon co-founded, consistent with the basis’s 2016 tax filings.

The tax information additionally display that the Mercers have given a little over $19 million to a number of conservative teams, together with at least 3 that reject the medical consensus round fossil fuel-driven local weather alternate: the Heartland Institute in Illinois, in addition to the CO2 Alliance and the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change. The basis has given just about $five.nine million to the Heartland Institute since 2008, in comparison to about $four million to the museum since 2012.

The Mercer Family Foundation has additionally donated to New York City hospitals in addition to the National Youth Science Foundation, which runs summer season camps. But maximum of its cash is going to conservative reasons, together with the Becket Fund, a non secular freedom crew that opposes abortion.

The basis’s 2016 go back isn't but to be had on the Internal Revenue Service website online. It was once shared with The Times by way of the Climate Investigations Center, which tracks investment for organizations that reject established local weather science. It is based totally in Washington and is supported by way of nameless donors in quest of to restrict the dangers of local weather alternate.

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