Mark Gorton, founder of LimeWire, a peer-to-peer file-sharing client for the Java platform, sits for a photo at the company’s New York offices.
Ramin Talaie | Corbis Historical | Getty Images
A veteran Wall Street executive told CNBC that he helped fund Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s anti-vaccination group and became an informal advisor to the organization.
Mark Gorton, founder and chairman of high-frequency trading firm Tower Research Capital, said he has donated $1 million to non-profit anti-vaccine organization Children’s Health Defense since 2021.
Kennedy, a longtime vaccine critic and son of the late Senator and US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, founded Children’s Health Defense. The younger Kennedy was also the group’s chief executive officer before launching his presidential candidacy as a Democrat in April.
While President Joe Biden is the clear favorite for the Democratic nomination in 2024, Kennedy has received a surprising amount of support: A recent Fox News poll found that 19% of Democratic primary voters polled would support him in the primary.
Polls also show that Kennedy’s growing influence has coincided with an increase in skepticism about vaccines, despite scientific evidence that the vaccines are safe. Kennedy has garnered the support of some longtime political figures, including former Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who is running the campaign. According to ABC News, Michael Flynn, former President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, was reportedly pictured with Kennedy in 2021.
During a nearly 90-minute interview at Cafe Fiorello in New York, Gorton said he supports Kennedy’s presidential campaign and has met him repeatedly since donating to Children’s Health Defense.
“I like him very much. He’s a super smart guy. Again, he’s not really a politician. He’s an anti-corruption fighter,” Gorton said, He added that he had Kennedy’s cell phone number.
When asked about Gorton’s donation, a spokeswoman for Children’s Health Defense replied in an email, “CHD’s donor information is confidential and will only be disclosed to the IRS in accordance with its rules/regulations.”
A Kennedy campaign spokesman did not respond to requests for comment prior to publication.
The Associated Press reported that Children’s Health Defense played a key role in pushing back on Covid vaccines and helped raise Kennedy’s profile. The nonprofit’s most recent publicly available tax filings show it raised just over $6 million in 2020, the year the Covid pandemic began, more than double the amount a year earlier.
The organization sent CNBC its 2021 tax filings, which show the group raised just over $15 million that year. It entered 2022 with a net worth of over $11 million. The names of the group’s donors are not mentioned in the documents.
In addition to his donation, Gorton said he spoke to staff at the nonprofit via Zoom calls and advised the group on its messaging strategy. “Basically, I worked with them to develop a strategy to target the core of the beast, which is the pharmaceutical industry,” he said.
Federal Election Commission records show that last year Gorton donated $500,000 to a super PAC, then called the People Pharma’s Movement, led by fellow Kennedy allies. Renamed American Values 2024, that PAC spent over $200,000 in print ads to support 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’s Park Plaza on April 19, 2023.
David L Ryan | Boston Globe | Getty Images
Gorton said he has no current plans to donate to the PAC this cycle. “I don’t think it’s a particularly leveraged thing for me. Now that it comes to supporting Bobby Kennedy, you’re in presidential election territory where billions of dollars are being spent, and I don’t think I can make any difference on that scale,” Gorton said.
Kennedy has linked vaccinations to autism. This has been refuted 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 has posted his own views on Covid vaccines through his substack. Like Kennedy, he questions the credibility of these state and global medical agencies.
Gorton, who also founded LimeWire, a peer-to-peer online content creator, has dabbled in other conspiracy theories.
Gawker reported in 2014 that Gorton has authored essays on various conspiracies, including the idea that former President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 in a “large-scale coup d’etat”. President Kennedy was an uncle of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. who spread a similar conspiracy that the Central Intelligence Agency was behind the assassination.
The CIA continued to deny involvement in the assassination.
Gorton told CNBC that he remains committed to most of his essays.