A Wall Street executive backs RFK Jr’s anti-vaccine group.
Mark Gorton, founder of LimeWire, a peer-to-peer file sharing client for the Java platform, poses for a photo at the company’s offices in New York.
Ramin Talaie | Corbis History | Getty Images
A veteran Wall Street executive told CNBC he helped fund Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s anti-vaccine group and became an informal adviser to the organization.
Mark Gorton, founder and chairman of high-frequency trading firm Tower Research Capital, said he had donated $1 million to the anti-vaccine nonprofit called Children’s Health Defense since 2021.
Kennedy, a longtime vaccine critic and son of the late United States Senator and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, founded Children’s Health Defense. The young Kennedy was also chairman of the group’s board of directors before launching his presidential bid as a Democrat in April.
While President Joe Biden is the clear favorite to win the 2024 Democratic nomination, Kennedy has drawn surprising support, with a recent Fox News survey showing that 19% of Democratic primary voters polled would support him in the primary.
Polls also show that Kennedy’s rise to prominence coincides with a rise in vaccine skepticism, despite scientific evidence that vaccines are safe. Kennedy has drawn support from some longtime political players, including former Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich, who is leading the campaign. Michael Flynn, national security adviser to former President Donald Trump, was pictured with Kennedy in 2021, according to ABC News.
During a 90-Minute interview at Café Fiorello in New York, Gorton said he encouraged Kennedy’s presidential campaign and had met him several times since donating to Children’s Health. Defense.
“I like him a lot. He’s a super smart guy. Again, he’s not really a politician. He’s a corruption fighter,” Gorton said., adding that he has Kennedy’s cell phone number.
Asked about Gorton’s donation, a Children’s Health Defense spokeswoman said in an email, “CHD donor information is confidential and is only released to the IRS in accordance with their rules/regulations. .”
A Kennedy campaign spokesperson did not return requests for comment ahead of publication.
The Associated Press reported that Children’s Health Defense played a key role in the fight against Covid vaccines and helped raise Kennedy’s profile. The nonprofit’s most recent publicly available tax documents show it raised just over $6 million in 2020, the year the Covid pandemic began, more than double its which she raised a year earlier.
The organization sent CNBC its tax documents from 2021, which show the group raised just over $15 million that year. He entered 2022 with over $11 million in assets. The documents do not name the group’s donors.
Beyond his donation, Gorton said he spoke to staff at the nonprofit through Zoom calls and advised the group on its messaging strategy. “I basically worked with them to try to develop a strategy to go after the heart of the beast which is the pharmaceutical industry,” he said.
Federal Election Commission records show Gorton donated $500,000 last year to a super PAC then called the People Pharma’s Movement and led by other Kennedy allies. That PAC was renamed American Values 2024 and spent more than $200,000 on print ads supporting Kennedy’s candidacy, according to FEC records.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announces his candidacy for President of the United States in a speech at Boston Park Plaza, April 19, 2023.
David L.Ryan | Boston Globe | Getty Images
Gorton said he has no plans to donate to PAC this cycle. “I don’t think that’s a very high leverage thing for me. Now that’s supporting Bobby Kennedy, you’re in the business of presidential races where billions of dollars are spent and I don’t think I can do anything it makes a difference on this scale,” Gorton said.
Kennedy linked vaccines to autism. This has been debunked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Gorton, through his Substack, pushed his own views on Covid vaccines. Like Kennedy, he questions the reliability of these federal and global medical agencies.
Gorton, who also founded LimeWire, an online peer-to-peer content creator, touched on other conspiracy theories.
Gawker reported in 2014 that Gorton had written essays laying out a variety of conspiracies, including the idea that former President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 in a “full-scale coup.” “. President Kennedy was an uncle of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who pushed a similar plot that the Central Intelligence Agency was behind the assassination.
The CIA continued to deny any involvement in the assassination.
Gorton told CNBC he continues to defend most of what he wrote in those essays.