Richard Mellon Scaife

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Richard Mellon Scaife
Born (1932-07-03) July 3, 1932 (age 81)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Alma mater University of Pittsburgh
Employer Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Known for Conservative political involvement
Newspaper owner
Mellon family heir
Title owner
Spouse(s) Frances L. Gilmore, (div.)
Margaret “Ritchie” Battle, (div.)
Children Jennie K. Scaife
David N. Scaife
Parents Sarah Mellon
Alan Scaife
Relatives Cordelia Scaife May (sister)

Richard Mellon Scaife (born July 3, 1932) is an American billionaire, a principal heir to the Mellon banking, oil, and aluminum fortune, and the owner and publisher of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. In 2005 Scaife was number 238 on the Forbes 400, with a personal fortune of $1.2 billion. By 2013, Scaife had dropped to number 371 on the Forbes 400 list, with a personal fortune of $1.4 billion.

Scaife is also known for his financial support of conservative public policy organizations over the past four decades. He has provided support for conservative and libertarian causes in the U.S., mostly through the private, nonprofit foundations he controls: the Sarah Scaife Foundation, Carthage Foundation, and Allegheny Foundation, and until 2001, the Scaife Family Foundation, now controlled by his daughter Jennie and son David.[1][2] Scaife also helped fund the Arkansas Project, a campaign to investigate Bill Clinton's past business and personal affairs.

Early life[edit]

Scaife was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Alan Scaife, the head of an affluent Pittsburgh family, and Sarah Mellon, who was a member of the influential Mellon family, one of the most powerful families in the country. Sarah Mellon Scaife was the niece of former United States Secretary of the Treasury Andrew W. Mellon. She and her brother, financier R.K. Mellon, were heirs to the Mellon fortune that included Mellon Bank and major stakes in Gulf Oil and Alcoa aluminum.

Scaife attended high school at Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts. He was expelled from Yale University in the aftermath of a drunken party, and later attended the University of Pittsburgh where his father was chairman of the board of trustees. Scaife graduated with a bachelor's degree in English in 1957.[3][unreliable source?]

Scaife inherited positions on several corporate boards in 1958 when his father Alan died unexpectedly. However his family had become estranged from his uncle, R.K., who retained control of the companies. His mother encouraged him to get involved in the family's philanthropic foundations, and he did so. (See management of Scaife family foundations.)

He inherited a good part of the Mellon fortune when his mother died in 1972.[4] A portion of the fortune was placed in trust funds and the rest in foundations.[4] The trusts expired in 1985 and, per tax law, the foundations must give away 5% of their assets per year. Disbursements from each foundation are done through boards of directors.[4]

In 1973 he became estranged from his sister Cordelia Scaife May and he took control of many of the family foundations while Cordelia supported her own charities, including Planned Parenthood and the National Aviary in Pittsburgh. Shortly before her death, the siblings reconciled and he eulogized her in January 2005,[5] lauding "Cordy" for devoting her life and resources to "worthwhile causes".[6]

Business[edit]

Purchase of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review[edit]

In 1970, Scaife purchased a small market newspaper, then known as the Tribune-Review. The paper was based in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, the county seat and center of Westmoreland County's population of 376,935, located about 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. For a number of years, the paper was published and distributed only in the Westmoreland County area.[7]

Scaife made headlines in the fall of 1973, when a Tribune-Review reporter was fired for making the remark "one down and one to go" during the Watergate era when Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned over corruption charges dating back to his days as Governor of Maryland. When the reporter's fellow staffers demanded an explanation at a meeting with Scaife, his defiant response led a number of them to quit (a few later returned). The paper was frequently accused of bias, especially toward that era's overwhelmingly Democratic political officeholders in the county.

In 1992, the two main newspapers in Pittsburgh were embroiled in a lengthy labor dispute that ultimately led the larger paper, the Pittsburgh Press, to cease operations, and for the remaining paper, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, to suspend publication for nearly six months until the Post-Gazette acquired the Press late that year.[8] During this time frame, Scaife expanded operations of the newspaper into Pittsburgh and renamed the paper the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Though the name changed, and there are several satellite offices in and around Pittsburgh, the newspaper's headquarters remain in Greensburg, about 35 miles east of Pittsburgh near Scaife's home.

Leadership and media interests[edit]

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review continues to challenge the Post-Gazette in the Pittsburgh media market. Twelve years after Scaife's newspaper began publishing, the Post-Gazette reported major financial losses, and the unions representing its employees agreed to wage concessions to keep it afloat. Unlike Scaife, the owners of the Post-Gazette, the Block family, were unwilling to sustain major losses year after year. According to the Scaife divorce papers, Richard Scaife has consistently spent between $20 and $30 million per year to cover the Tribune-Review's losses.[9] According to the Audit Bureau of Circulation, the Trib has a combined 221,000 regional circulation, about 7,000 subscribers fewer than its competitor.

In 2005, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review announced that operations of its suburban editions would be consolidated, with "staff reductions" in the newsrooms, business, and circulation departments.[10] Two managers were laid off immediately along with several other staff members later in 2005.

With Scaife as publisher, the small circulation newspaper was the chief packager of editorials and news columns claiming that then United States President Bill Clinton or his wife, then First Lady Hillary Clinton were responsible for the death of Deputy White House counsel Vincent Foster. Scaife paid freelancer Christopher W. Ruddy to write about the Foster case for the Tribune-Review and other right-leaning media.[11] Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr, appointed to investigate Clinton, concluded that Foster committed suicide.[12][13]

In 2004, Scaife was reported to own 7.2% of NewsMax Media, a news-based website with conservative political content founded by Ruddy in 1998.[14] In 2009, Scaife reportedly "controlled" 42% of NewsMax, with Ruddy the 58% majority owner, CEO and editor.[15]

Scaife also owns a majority interest in Pittsburgh-based all-news radio station KQV.

Politics and philanthropy[edit]

Scaife's interest in politics was influenced by several factors.

  • His father served with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II and the family lived in Washington, D.C. for a time. (The various functional units of the OSS were reconstituted in 1947 as the Central Intelligence Agency; see How the OSS became the CIA in the OSS article.)
  • He was influenced by Robert Duggan, his sister Cordelia's fiance who later became her husband. Scaife worked on Duggan's political campaigns and Duggan was twice elected Allegheny County District Attorney. Duggan helped Scaife become a committeeman in the Allegheny County Republican Party in 1956. In 1974, however, Duggan killed himself with a shotgun, hours before he was indicted by a grand jury for income tax evasion and racketeering.
  • Scaife involved himself in the 1964 presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater, with whom his mother was acquainted.

The inherited Mellon fortune allowed Scaife to pursue his political activism. In 1965, when Sarah Scaife died, Scaife inherited not only financial increase but also a new influence over the family foundations.

Support for Richard Nixon[edit]

Scaife gained notoriety for making an end-run around weak campaign finance laws to donate US$990,000 to the 1972 re-election campaign of U.S. President Richard Nixon. Scaife was not charged with a crime, but about $45,000 went to a fund linked to the Watergate scandal. Scaife later said he was repulsed by the scandal and refused to speak with Nixon after 1973. Following Duggan's suicide and then Watergate, Scaife shifted his political giving from politicians' campaigns to anti-communist research groups, legal defense funds, and publications.[16]

Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Milton Shapp accused Mellon of dirty tricks in 1974 because Scaife supported the Republican opponent.[17][18]

Opposition to Bill Clinton[edit]

Scaife's publications were substantially involved in coverage against then-President Bill Clinton.

  • Scaife was the major backer of the American Spectator, whose Arkansas Project set out to find facts about Clinton and in which Paula Jones' accusations of sexual harassment against Clinton were first widely publicized.
  • In a 1999 series of articles on Scaife and foundations that support conservative causes, the Washington Post named a close Scaife associate, Richard Larry, and not Scaife himself as the man who drove the Arkansas Project.[16][19]

Regardless of his role, the project not only accused Clinton of financial and sexual indiscretions (some later verified, others not), but also gave root to conspiracist notions that the Clintons collaborated with the CIA to run a drug smuggling operation out of the town of Mena, Arkansas and that Clinton had arranged for the murder of White House aide Vince Foster as part of a coverup of the Whitewater scandal. The possibility that money from the project had been given to former Clinton associate David Hale, a witness in the Whitewater investigation, led to the appointment of Michael J. Shaheen as a special investigator. Shaheen subpoenaed Scaife, who testified before a federal grand jury in the matter.

In the fall of 2007, however, Ruddy published a positive interview with former President Clinton on Newsmax.com, followed by a positive cover story in the magazine. The New York Times noted with reference to the event that politics had made "strange bedfellows".[20] Newsweek reported that Ruddy praised Clinton for his Foundation's global work, and explained that the interview, as well as a private lunch he and Scaife had had with Clinton (which Ruddy says was orchestrated by Ed Koch), were due to his shared view, with Scaife, that Clinton was doing important work representing the U.S. globally while America was the target of criticism. He also said that he and Scaife had never suggested Clinton was involved in Foster's death, nor had they spread allegations about Bill Clinton's sex scandals, although their work may have encouraged others.[21]

Endorsement of Hillary Clinton[edit]

On April 20, 2008, two days before Pennsylvania's presidential primary, Scaife's Pittsburgh Tribune Review endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.[22]

Political donations[edit]

According to campaignmoney.com, from 1999 through 2006, Scaife has, under the name "R. Scaife," made 10 contributions of over $200 to political campaigns, for a total of $19,000. Under the name "R.M. Scaife" he made 4 donations, for a total of $22,000. Under the name Richard Scaife, he made 23 donations over this period, for a total of $142,904. Besides donations to the Republican National Committee and various political campaigns such as Santorum 2000 and the Santorum Victory Committee for Rick Santorum, he has also supported Political Action Committees such as the Pro-Growth Action Team, the Free Congress PAC (formerly: Committee For the Survival Of a Free Congress), and the Club For Growth Inc. PAC. Scaife also funded the Western Journalism Center, headed by Joseph Farah. He was named to the PoliticsPA list of "Pennsylvania's Top Political Activists".[23]

Management of the Scaife family foundations[edit]

When Scaife refocused his political giving away from individuals and toward anti-communist research groups, legal defense funds, and publications, the first among these was the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.

Through contacts made at Hoover and elsewhere, Scaife became a major, early supporter of the Heritage Foundation, which has since become one of Washington's most influential public policy research institutes. He currently serves as vice-chairman of the Heritage Foundation board of trustees.[24]

Later, he supported such varied conservative and libertarian organizations as:

By 1998 his foundations were listed among donors to over 100 such groups, to which he had disbursed some $340 million by 2002.[27]

Pepperdine University[edit]

Scaife also endowed a new school of public policy at Pepperdine University. Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr was named the first dean of this school, although Pepperdine denies any connection between Scaife and the selection of Starr. Starr accepted the post in 1996, but in the ensuing controversy, he gave up the appointment in 1998 before ever having started at Pepperdine. However, once the investigation was behind him, Starr was appointed to head Pepperdine's law school in 2004 and became president of Baylor University in 2010.[28]

Other philanthropic support[edit]

Scaife is identified with his contributions to conservative and libertarian causes. The Washington Post dubbed him "funding father of the Right" in 1999.

However, he has also supported policy research groups which are not explicitly conservative, such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the National Endowment for Democracy, and the Foreign Policy Research Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, among others.

Scaife has also been a major donor to abortion rights advocates, including Planned Parenthood, giving "millions" to the organization, though most such giving stopped in the 1970s, according to The Washington Post.[19]

In the late 1990s, during the height of the Clinton scandals, Scaife nevertheless continued to provide more than $1 million to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the prime benefactor of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). His donations to restore and beautify the White House led to an invitation by Hillary Clinton for a black-tie celebration. She warmly received him and posed for a photograph on the same day her husband's sex scandal hit the press. Scaife told the New York Post that he appreciated Mrs. Clinton's invitation. "I'm honored", he said, "Lord knows, it's more than I got from George Bush".[29]

Scaife has also supported non-political groups. He is a key benefactor of a number of Pittsburgh-based arts organizations. Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Sarah Scaife Galleries at the Carnegie Institute of Pittsburgh art museum, the Brandywine Conservancy, the Phipps Conservatory, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, as well as Goodwill Industries of Pittsburgh. He and his foundations have contributed to Sarah Scaife's favorite causes: population control (e.g. Planned Parenthood), environmental conservation, and hospitals; Jonas Salk developed his polio vaccine in a Sarah Scaife-funded laboratory. He also supports a variety of educational institutions, notably the University of Chicago, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, Carnegie Mellon University, Boston University, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Rochester, Smith College, and Bowling Green State University.

Personal life[edit]

Scaife's first marriage was to Frances L. Gilmore (born December 2, 1934). The couple had two children, Jennie K. Scaife (born July 8, 1963), and David N. Scaife (born February 5, 1966). The couple subsequently divorced.

In June 1991, he married his longtime companion Margaret “Ritchie” Battle Scaife (born February 15, 1947), who had influenced the giving pattern of the Scaife foundations and made the couple active in the social and cultural life of patrician Pittsburgh.

The couple subsequently separated, and on December 27, 2005, the Pittsburgh Police responded to a call placed by Richard Scaife reporting trespassing at Scaife's residence in the prestigious Shadyside section of Pittsburgh. They arrived to find Ritchie Scaife, his estranged wife, pounding on doors and peeking in windows of the couple's mansion. Mrs. Scaife refused to leave the property, and was arrested and charged with defiant trespass.[30]

On April 8, 2006, the Tribune-Review published an article describing a fight between Scaife's estranged wife and three of his servants over a dog that Scaife told the New York Daily News his wife had given him. Both newspapers reported that Scaife’s servants went to the hospital for scrapes and bruises after the fracas.[31][dead link][32] Afterwards, Scaife placed a sign on his lawn: “Wife and dog missing - reward for dog.”[33]

On April 11, 2006 Scaife confided to a gossip columnist that he and Margaret "Ritchie" Battle Scaife plan to divorce and that their marriage began without a prenuptial agreement. The New York Daily News column estimated his vulnerable assets at half of $1.2 billion.[32]

In September 2007, the Post-Gazette and reporter Dennis Roddy found that the Scaife divorce papers, which had been under seal, were available to the public on the website of the Allegheny County Prothonotary's office. The Post-Gazette has made the divorce papers available in full on its website.[9] The papers include a full list of all of the possessions Mrs. Scaife alleged Richard Scaife had taken and was keeping from her.[34]

He was named to the PoliticsPA list of "Sy Snyder's Power 50" list of influential individuals in Pennsylvania politics in 2002 and 2003.[35][36]

Steve Kangas incident[edit]

On 8. February 1999 former military intelligence specialist turned progressive writer Steve Kangas committed suicide less than 60 feet from Scaife's office door inside the One Oxford Center, Pittsburgh. He had been an outspoken critic of Scaife and believed that Scaife-funded initiatives posed a danger to the nation. Scaife hired Rex Armistead and a reporter from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review to investigate whether or not Kangas had been out to kill Scaife.[37] Conspiracy theories concerning the death of Kangas continued to flourish in the period afterwards, with some commentators noting the irony when compared with Scaife's own material support of conspiracy theories regarding the suicide of Vince Foster.[38][39]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Robert G. Kaiser (December 17, 1998). "Scaife Denies Ties to 'Conspiracy,' Starr". Special Report: Clinton Accused (The Washington Post). Retrieved August 30, 2010. 
  2. ^ Sarah Scaife Foundation
  3. ^ Herbert F. Vetter, ed. (October 9, 2004). "Karen Rothmyer: Citizen Scaife". Speak Out Against the New Right. Harvard Square Library. ISBN 1-58736-357-7. 
  4. ^ a b c The Washington Post Staff (May 9, 1999). "Scaife's Foundations". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 30, 2010. 
  5. ^ Pro, Johnna A.; Pitz, Marylynne (January 27, 2005). "Obituary: Cordelia Scaife May / Reclusive Mellon heiress known for her generosity". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  6. ^ Philanthropist Cordelia Scaife May dies at 76 - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
  7. ^ Another voice in town - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
  8. ^ "The Media Business; Press Unions Support Sale". The New York Times. November 30, 1992. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  9. ^ a b Twedt, Steve (September 23, 2007). "Scaife demands documents from Post-Gazette". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  10. ^ Tribune-Review to reorganize papers - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
  11. ^ Newsmax.com - Christopher Ruddy
  12. ^ "Vince Foster factory, The". Columbia Journalism Review. [dead link]
  13. ^ Trudy Lieberman (April 1996). "The Vince Foster factory". Columbia Journalism Review. [dead link]
  14. ^ Poe, Richard. Hillary's Secret War: The Clinton Conspiracy to Muzzle Internet Journalists. Thomas Nelson, 2004, ISBN 0-7852-6013-7
  15. ^ "Chris Ruddy: Conservatives' great online ally: He's a bigger Internet star than Rush Limbaugh" Commentary by Jon Friedman, MarketWatch, March 13, 2009. Retrieved 3-13-09.
  16. ^ a b Kaiser, Robert G. (May 3, 1999). "Money, Family Name Shaped Scaife. Burdens of Wealth". Washington Post. p. A1. Retrieved 2010-10-13. 
  17. ^ http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=JFoqAAAAIBAJ&sjid=R1UEAAAAIBAJ&pg=3427%2C3560744
  18. ^ http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=b8xRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=YG0DAAAAIBAJ&pg=4619%2C1184572
  19. ^ a b Robert G. Kaiser; Ira Chinoy (May 2, 1999). "Scaife: Funding Father of the Right". The Washington Post. p. A1. Retrieved August 30, 2010. 
  20. ^ Healy, Patrick (November 1, 2007). "Bill Clinton Gives Interview to Former Foe". The Caucus. The Politics and Government Blog of the Times (New York Times). Retrieved 2010-09-14. 
  21. ^ Hosenball, Mark (November 19, 2007). "So Happy Together. Bill archenemy Richard Mellon Scaife now has 'admiration' for him. Huh?". Newsweek. 
  22. ^ "In Pennsylvania's Democratic primary for president:Vote for Clinton.". Pittsburgh Tribune Review. 20 April 2008. 
  23. ^ "Pennsylvania's Top Political Activists". PoliticsPA. The Publius Group. 2002. Archived from the original on 2002-11-13. 
  24. ^ Heritage Foundation Board of Trustees, heritage.org
  25. ^ "Dissenter on Warming Expands His Campaign" by Leslie Kaufman, The New York Times, Apr. 10, 2009. Retrieved 4/10/09.
  26. ^ A Vast Right-Wing Hypocrisy: Politics & Power: vanityfair.com
  27. ^ Media Transparency, Aggregated Grants from the Scaife Foundations.
  28. ^ Bobby Ross Jr. Kenneth Starr plans to join Baptist church, Christian Chronicle, 2010 April, p. 1 (accessed 2010 May 19).
  29. ^ Sammon, Bill (April 28, 1998). "There's a liberal side to `right-winger' Dick Scaife Endowment won Clinton's handshake". Washington Times (Washington, D.C.). p. A.1. 
  30. ^ "Tribune-Review publisher's wife charged with trespass". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. December 27, 2005. Retrieved 2010-09-14. 
  31. ^ Police: Woman assaults 3 in fight over dog—Pittsburgh Tribune-Review[dead link]
  32. ^ a b Celebrity Scandals and Gossip - NY Daily News
  33. ^ Tony Allen-Mills (January 20, 2008). "Sex and tongs - it’s divorce billionaire-style". London: The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2008-01-20. 
  34. ^ Segal, David. "Low Road to Splitsville". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  35. ^ "Sy Snyder's Power 50". PoliticsPA. The Publius Group. 2002. Archived from the original on 2002-04-21. 
  36. ^ "Power 50". PoliticsPA. The Publius Group. 2003. Archived from the original on 2004-04-17. 
  37. ^ Craig Jr., John (March 28, 1999). "Mission: Implausible". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 25 October 2010. 
  38. ^ Leonard, Andrew (March 19, 1999). "A Vincent Foster for Usenet liberals?". Salon.com. Retrieved 25 October 2010. 
  39. ^ Associate Press (March 15, 1999). "Scaife Probes Background of Suicide". Washington Post. Retrieved 25 October 2010. 

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