Billionaire Grandson of Gilded Age Plutocrat Gives Trump Super PAC $50 Million

Timothy Mellon is one of at least a dozen billionaires backing Donald Trump’s bid for another four years in the White House.

by Jake Johnson

Billionaire businessman Timothy Mellon, 81, the grandson of Gilded Age plutocrat Andrew Mellon, made a $50 million donation to a pro-Donald Trump super PAC last month, a day after the former president was convicted by a New York jury on 34 felony counts.

Mellon had previously donated $25 million to super PACs backing both Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an independent presidential candidate. The New York Times noted late Thursday that Mellon, a reclusive GOP megadonor who has described safety net programs as “slavery redux,” is “now the first donor to give $100 million in disclosed federal contributions in this year’s election.”

“The grandson of Andrew Mellon peering out from behind shrubbery to drop $50 million on an effort to defeat the strongest anti-monopolist element in government in decades is poetic,” The American Prospect’s David Dayen wrote in response to Mellon’s donation, alluding in part to the Lina Khan-led Federal Trade Commission’s bold efforts to fight corporate consolidation.

Matt Stoller, director of research at the American Economic Liberties Project, wrote in his book on monopoly power and American politics that Andrew Mellon used his corporate empire and appointment as U.S. treasury secretary “to fuse government and business to make the world safe for monopolists.”

“Unlike other tycoons, he did not specialize in one area. At one point, five Fortune 500 companies owed their lineage directly to Mellon: Alcoa, Gulf Oil, Mellon Bank, Carborundum, and Koppers. He controlled a network of ninety-nine banks. He had interests in coal, steel, chemicals, oil, sleeping cars, railroads, building construction, utilities, magnesium, and airplanes,” Stoller wrote. “Mellon even commandeered the use of an entire element of earth—aluminum—through his control of the monopoly aluminum producer Alcoa.”

Timothy Mellon’s donation to the Make America Great Again Inc. super PAC was the largest single campaign contribution this election cycle and accounted for most of the roughly $70 million that the pro-Trump outfit raised last month.

The Times reported that “within days of the contribution,” the super PAC “said in a memo that it would begin reserving $100 million in advertising through Labor Day.”

Mellon is one of at least a dozen billionaires supporting Trump’s bid for another four years in the White House. The former president has solicited donations from fossil fuel executives and hedge fund investors, promising to deliver regulatory rollbacks and more tax cuts if he defeats President Joe Biden in November.

Trump has also actively courted casino billionaire Miriam Adelson—his biggest 2020 donor and a fervent supporter of Israel—with apparent success: Politico reported last month that Adelson is “planning to play a major role in funding Preserve America, a pro-Trump super PAC founded during the former president’s 2020 reelection campaign.”

“How much Adelson will donate to the super PAC is not clear, though the person familiar with her plans said the group was expecting to spend more than it did four years ago when Adelson and her late husband, Sheldon, donated $90 million to Preserve America,” the outlet noted. “Their funds accounted for about 85 percent of what the organization raised in total.”

Biden’s campaign, meanwhile, has received roughly $20 million in donations from billionaire former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The Washington Post reported Thursday that “the transfer of funds includes a $19 million check to FF PAC, an independent pro-Biden group also known as Future Forward, and a max-out donation of $929,600 to the Biden Victory Fund, an amalgamation of Biden campaign and Democratic Party committees.”


Jake Johnson is a senior editor and staff writer for Common Dreams. This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.


Timothy Mellon, Former Local Job Creator

Timothy Mellon, until recently owned of the local railroad once known as Pan Am, and before that Guilford Transportation.

Assembled out of the straggling remnants of the Maine Central and Boston & Maine railroads, beginning in 1981, Pan Am/Guilford operated what Wikipedia has referred to as a “hodgepodge fleet of aging motive power, which is made up of EMD and GE locomotives from railroads such as Conrail, NS, CSX, the Milwaukee Road, and Kansas City Southern.”

Online railfans, on an apparently now-defunct message board, frequently mocked what they saw as the railroad’s parsimonious ways. Posters frequently emphasized the hazards created for workers and communities when operators skimped on maintenance. Mellon sold out in 2022, so presumably he’s off the hook for any recent incidents, such as Tuesday’s derailment. [See photo, page six.]

In a 2022 article for Colorado Newsline, Chase Woodruff delved into Mellon’s background and worldview:

“Mellon’s 116-page autobiography features recollections of a childhood spent flying to and from boarding school on his father’s private jet and a visit by Queen Elizabeth II to the family’s farm in Virginia. In the 1980s, he became an investor in several railroad and aviation companies, though his best-known venture, a resurrection of the Pan Am airline brand, ended in failure in the 2000s.

“In a chapter titled ‘Slavery Redux,’ Mellon draws on racist stereotypes about social welfare programs and attacks liberals for what he describes as “encouraging people to remain on the government teat.’”

“‘They have become slaves of a new Master, Uncle Sam,’ Mellon wrote. ‘For delivering their votes in the Federal Elections, they are awarded with yet more and more freebies: food stamps, cell phones, WIC payments, Obamacare, and on, and on, and on. The largess is funded by the hardworking folks, fewer and fewer in number, who are too honest or too proud to allow themselves to sink into this morass.’”


“What is so rare as a day in June?”, the poet James Russell Lowell asked in 1848, in a 400-line poem no one has read since Hector was a pup. In June of 1964, Walt Kelly’s Churchy La Femme had an answer: a rhyme for Pogo. We now have a new answer to this immortal question: a June afternoon when fog lies so thick on the river that the far end of Memorial Bridge disappears. A tornado was cutting a three-mile swath through Dublin, N.H. about the time this photo was taken. The same storm hit Portsmouth later, throwing off dozens of lightning strikes.


RiverRun Bookstore Recommends …

West With Giraffes, by Lynda Rutledge

Two giraffes manage to survive a hurricane in 1938 on the way from Africa to New York City. The “Old Man” as he is called, is a zookeeper in charge of getting them from New York to the San Diego Zoo.

Woody Nickel (Yes)—is a homeless teen orphan who is determined to get to California from New York City. After leaving New York, the driver of the rig gets fired and Woody follows the giraffe rig and begs to take his place. The relationship between Woody and the Old Man grows. The special gem of this novel is the relationship between them and the giraffes. There are many roadblocks and problems that arise getting them across the country. 

Readers: Because we love and depend on RiverRun Bookstore, we signed up for membership at We hope you will, too. – The Ed.


For-Profit Medicare Advantage Using AI to Deny Care to Seniors

by Brett Wilkins

Dozens of Democratic U.S. lawmakers joined consumer and patient advocates on Tuesday in sounding the alarm over the use of artificial intelligence by companies providing Medicare Advantage plans to deny healthcare to their senior customers.

Fifty-one Democratic members of Congress and Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont wrote to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Books LaSure on Tuesday expressing their concern over Medicare Advantage (MA) providers’ increasing use of algorithmic systems to deny patient care.

“Plans continue to use AI tool to erroneously deny care and contradict provider assessment findings,” the letter notes. “Last year, a class action lawsuit was filed alleging that UnitedHealth Group unlawfully used an AI algorithm, nH Predict, to deny rehabilitative care to sick Medicare Advantage patients.”

“The lawsuit cites an investigation suggesting that UnitedHealth Group pressured employees to use the algorithm to issue payment denials to Medicare Advantage beneficiaries and set a goal for employees to keep patient rehabilitation stays within 1% of the length of stay predicted by nH Predict,” the lawmakers continued.

MA plans are not part of Medicare. They are a private health insurance “scam” created by a Republican-controlled Congress and signed into law by then-President George W. Bush “as a way of routing hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars into the pockets of for-profit insurance companies,” according to frequent Common Dreams opinion contributor Thom Hartmann.

Advocates have warned about the use of AI in MA denials since at least last year, while imploring congressional and regulator action to protect seniors and people with disabilities from being preyed upon by what critics have called “Medicare disadvantage” companies.

In February, CMS “clarified that Medicare Advantage organizations may use algorithms, artificial intelligence, and related technologies to assist in making coverage determinations, but these technologies may not override standards related to medical necessity and other applicable rules for how coverage determinations by Medicare Advantage organizations are made.”

Rights groups echoed the lawmakers’ concerns about the use of AI for MA denials.

“Medicare Advantage insurers using AI to deny needed care to seniors and people with disabilities means sacrificing patient needs on the altar of corporate greed,” Public Citizen executive vice president Lisa Gilbert said. “CMS must expand upon the steps it has already taken to improve oversight of companies using AI to deny care that would be covered by traditional Medicare.”

“It is time to protect enrollees by cracking down on Medicare Advantage insurers using AI to deny needed care through additional reporting requirements and increased enforcement actions against bad actors,” Gilbert added.

David Lipschutz, associate director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy, said in a statement that “in our experience, MA plans’ use of AI or algorithmic software has led to more inappropriate denials and premature terminations of care—this must end.”

A report published earlier this month revealed that MA plans have overcharged the federal government by $612 billion since 2007—and $82 billion last year alone. Another report published last year by Physicians for a National Health Program found that MA plans are also overcharging U.S. taxpayers by up to $140 billion per year, enough to erase all Medicare Part B premiums or fully fund Medicare’s prescription drug program.

A 2022 U.S. Senate Finance Committee investigation found that insurance companies and other brokers are “running amok” with “fraudsters and scam artists” making false or misleading claims to dupe seniors into buying MA plans. In February 2023, Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) reintroduced legislation to change the official name of MA to “alternative private health plan” to make clear that such coverage is offered by for-profit companies.


Brett Wilkins is a staff writer for Common Dreams. This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.


An unadvertised perk for future occupants of the luxury condos going up in the North End: watching railroad workers set cars back on the track. At about noon on Tuesday, a CSX freight train derailed directly behind an Eastern Bank branch office. Just to complicate the situation—beyond the two active construction sites, one on either side of the bank—the train was loaded with, of all things, rails for the railroad. And these are not your grandpa’s 78-foot jobbies. These are the newfangled extra-long variety. By our calculation there appears to be about 800 feet of train here. Workers were able to clear Market Street fairly quickly; traffic resumed on Maplewood Avenue about 4:00 p.m. Hey—it could have been worse. Nothing exploded, and as far as we know nobody was poisoned.


Better Old News, Than New Lies…

At the Navy Yard

All the plank walks on the navy yard are being renovated or rebuilt. Some of them were in a very unsightly condition, and their appearance was such as to give the stranger the impression that Gen. Decay had taken up his headquarters in the neighborhood.

Enforcing the Sunday Law

We are informed that there were only sixty-five bar-rooms doing their regular business last Sunday. The others who do shut up will are getting jealous of this state of affairs and all will probably open their doors in a short time.

New Hampshire Gazette, June 30, 1892, pg. 3.


Death of a Crank

The death of Broker E.W. Gould, at Staten Island New York, on June 18th, during an amateur performance of a “Wild West” show, is a very sad event, but to many people the shock of the occurrence is lessened by the reflection that a man of fifty-five years of age, who will go gallivanting round on top of a stage coach playing Buffalo Bill, must have been a crank of the first water.

Democrats vs. America

The democratic party has by its national platform declared war to the death on the American home and the American public school. Can there be any doubt as to the outcome of such a struggle, at the inauguration?

New Hampshire Gazette, June 30, 1892, pg. 4.


Trump and the GOP Want to Drown the Middle Class in the Bathtub

by Thom Hartmann

As we head toward the presidential debate this week, the Republicans’ vision for America is becoming clearer by the day.

From Trump to Project 2025 to the speeches of multiple Republican senators and members of Congress, you’ll frequently hear the phrase “post-constitutional” applied. They refer to a “post-constitutional moment” and a Republican “post-constitutional presidency.” But what do they mean by this?

In the five decades after the Republican Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Jack Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter taught America and the world a great truth: a middle class is not a normal thing, and if a country wants one it must be created by direct government intervention in the marketplace.

Prior to FDR’s New Deal, America had never had a broad middle class that encompassed more than half of us. What we today call the middle class—the ability to raise a family, buy a house and car, take a vacation, save for old age—was, until the 1940s, typically very small in the United States, as it was in much of the rest of the developed world.

As recently as 1900, for example, women couldn’t vote, senators were appointed by the wealthiest power brokers in the states, and poverty stalked America. There was no minimum wage; when workers tried to organize unions, police would help employers beat or even murder their ringleaders; and social safety net programs like unemployment insurance, Social Security, Medicare, food and housing supports, and Medicaid didn’t exist.

There was no income tax to pay for such programs, and federal receipts were a mere 3 percent of GDP (today its around 20 percent). As the President’s Council of Economic Advisors noted in their 2000 Annual Report:

“To appreciate how far we have come, it is instructive to look back on what American life was like in 1900. At the turn of the century, fewer than 10 percent of homes had electricity, and fewer than 2 percent of people had telephones. An automobile was a luxury that only the very wealthy could afford.

“Many women still sewed their own clothes and gave birth at home. Because chlorination had not yet been introduced and water filtration was rare, typhoid fever, spread by contaminated water, was a common affliction. One in 10 children died in infancy. Average life expectancy was a mere 47 years.

“Fewer than 14 percent of Americans graduated from high school. … Widowhood was far more common than divorce [because of the dire economic consequences to women of divorce]. The average household had close to five members, and a fifth of all households had seven or more. …

“Average income per capita, in 1999 dollars, was about $4,200. … The typical workweek in manufacturing was about 50 hours, 20 percent longer than the average today.”

This is the America Republicans want to return us to today. This is how, they assert, the Constitution wants us to live. The way things used to be.

In the decades immediately following the Civil War, American government was fundamentally altered. The process was sped up with the 16th Amendment, authorizing the income tax, and the 19th Amendment that allowed women to vote. Along with the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, these changes provided the basis for the U.S. government to intervene in the “free market” and create America’s first broad middle class.

FDR imposed a top income tax rate of 90 percent on the morbidly rich, 50% on corporate profits, and passed legislation giving average people the right to unionize, balancing the power equation between management and labor.

The result was that by 1980 well over 60 percent of Americans were in the middle class, the majority with a single household income.

This is the series of events to which Republicans object when they say they want to either “return America to constitutional principles” or enter into a “post-constitutional” era, depending on who’s speaking.

Libertarian billionaires consider any interference in the “magical free market” to be a violation of some sort of natural law that creates Dickensian societies with massive concentrations of wealth at the top, widespread poverty among the working class at the bottom, and a small middle class made up almost entirely of entrepreneurs and professional people like doctors and lawyers.

This is why Republican intellectuals like former OMB Director Russell Vought, a major advisor to Trump and Project 2025, are, as Heather Cox Richardson noted in her brilliant Substack newsletter:

“[C]alling for draconian cuts to government agencies, student loans, and housing, health care, and food assistance. [Vought] called for $2 trillion in cuts to Medicaid over ten years, more than $600 billion in cuts to the Affordable Care Act, more than $400 billion in cuts to food assistance, and so on.”

It’s why Republicans are working so hard to disempower women in the workplace, starting with eliminating their control over their own reproductive capacity (which is what drove the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s post-Roe v Wade).

It’s also why they’re doing everything they can to shut down corporate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs nationwide; the majority of the hiring and increased pay benefits coming from corporate, government, and academic DEI programs go to women, a situation Republican men find intolerable.

Republicans want to either “return” to a pre-Civil War understanding of the Constitution (as advocated by Clarence Thomas and Sam Alito) or a “post-constitutional” order in which the last century’s “innovations” (including the income tax, women’s suffrage, “welfare” programs, entitlements, and even free public school and college) are ended.

We see this in the ways Republicans on the Supreme Court have gutted both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, how they’ve stripped most of the teeth out of the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, and how they’re working to castrate most regulatory agencies including the EPA, FTC, and even the IRS.

Some of it is simple greed: as the middle class shrinks and poverty grows, the cash stash at the very top of the American economic pyramid grows exponentially. Other American oligarchs follow the teachings of Russell Kirk, William F. Buckley, and Ronald Reagan who all argued that a larger-than-50% middle class is a threat to the stability of the nation.

When the 1960s happened and workers, women, draft-age young men, Blacks, Hispanics, and gays were all simultaneously demanding equal rights and protection from exploitation, conservatives in the GOP believed they were seeing the actual, disastrous unraveling of America.

They argued that transferring even part of the wealth of rich people to help build a middle class is the first step in a socialist agenda that must ultimately end with torches, pitchforks, and rich people facing the guillotine in a full-blown communist takeover of America.

As Richardson notes:

“Vought argues that the United States is in a ‘post-constitutional moment’ that ‘pays only lip service to the old Constitution.’ He attributes that crisis to ‘the Left,’ which he says ‘quietly adopted a strategy of institutional change,’ by which he appears to mean the growth of the federal government to protect individual Americans. He attributes that change to the presidency of President Woodrow Wilson beginning in 1913. Vought calls for what he calls ‘Radical Constitutionalism’ to destroy the power of the modern administrative state and instead elevate the president to supreme authority.”

These are the real stakes in this fall’s election:

• Democratic President Joe Biden believes that government intervening in the marketplace to build and sustain a broad and diverse middle class is good for all Americans. He holds up the success of the New Deal and the Great Society as exemplars, justification for programs holding corporate America to account and empowering women, minorities, and workers generally.

• Republican Donald Trump and his fellow billionaires in the GOP believe the middle class is still too large at today’s 49 percent and needs to be cut further down to size to take America back to the pre-1913 “Constitutional” era when there was no income tax; women couldn’t vote, work, or have a checking account; there was no minimum wage or unemployment insurance; no Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid; and police routinely collaborated with employers to murder union organizers.

Republicans are dead serious about this. Your vote, and those of your friends and acquaintances, will determine which of these two dueling narratives about the future of the American middle class will win.

Choose wisely.


Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of The Hidden History of Monopolies: How Big Business Destroyed the American Dream (2020); The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America (2019); and more than 25 other books in print. This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.


Better Old News, Than New Lies…

Relocating Mehitable Gerrish

Charles W. Drown, who owns the house No. 6 Mechanic street, in digging a drain from his house to the dock opposite, , exhumed a number of human bones and a small gravestone of antique design. The stone was slate, dressed smooth on one side and elaborately carved. It bore this brief inscription, “Mrs. Mehitable Gerrish.” How the relics came buried in the middle of Mechanic street is a mystery. It is probable that the Point of Graves cemetery anciently covered a larger extent of territory than the present inclosure indicates, and that the highway passes over many forgotten graves. Col. Marvin, of the local Historical society, has made arrangements to have the remains carefully interred and the stone set up within the present limits of the Point of Graves burying ground.

New Hampshire Gazette, June 30, 1892, pg. 6.

She Meant Business

Hartford, Conn., July 5—James Conroy, an ice man, was shot at Durham on Saturday morning by Mrs. James Rich, the wife of a farmer. Conroy was picking cherries from trees on the Rich place and declined to come down when ordered by Mrs. Rich who pointed a shotgun at him and discharged it. Conroy is badly wounded in one leg.

Officers Roughly Handled

Haverhill, Mass., July 5—The hoodlum element had full sway in Bradford early in the morning on the Fourth. Soon after 12 o’clock three monster bonfires were started on Main street. Citizens became alarmed and the fire department was ordered to extinguish the flames, which it attempted to do with hydrant streams under the protection of the police, but the firemen were attacked by the crowd and in turn the stream was turned on the mob.

This caused a free fight, during which Officers Batchelder and Jenkins were roughly handled. Lines were fastened around them, and they were dragged through the muddy street. The officers were finally released, the fire was put out and the crowd dispersed. No arrests were made.

New Hampshire Gazette July 7, 1892, pg. 2.


Portsmouth votes against the use of the secret ballot in municipal elections. We always thought Portsmouth was slow and now we know it is. – Newburyport News, July 7, 1892

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