Richard Mellon Scaife died this morning at the age of 82. The cause was cancer, a diagnosis he announced in his newspaper less than 2 months ago. His national profile had diminished considerably since the middle 90s when he became a Koch brothers like figure, vilified by Democrats as the funder and propagator of various conspiracy-theory peddling groups attacking then-President Clinton, and cheered for the same reasons by conservatives. Oddly Scaife and Clinton himself managed a reconciliation of sorts during the late Bush years. There were also less known aspects of Scaife’s philanthropy: he was a major supporter of and a contributor to Planned Parenthood.
One note: Scaife’s fortune was recently reported as $1.3 billion. Obviously that’s an astronomical sum – enough to keep numerous organizations humming along for a lifetime, as he did. But this strikes me as another sign of the impact of the last twenty years. In today’s terms, he would only make it into the mid-tier of major politics-playing plutocrats.
Postscript: A good portrait of the man in this WaPo obit.