The creator of the online fundraising campaign for Sidney Powell’s “Kraken” lawsuits, aimed at overturning President Donald Trump’s November loss, has a patrician pedigree—and a social media profile rife with transphobia and flirtations with the far-right.
Robert Matheson’s social media persona has grown so strident and extreme that Twitter banned him from its platform earlier this year after he tweeted at Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler that transgenderism is “a joke,” “a mental illness,” and a “sickness.”
Powell claimed to The Daily Beast that Matheson is no longer involved in the Legal Defense Fund for the American Republic—but that would appear to be news to him.
His website boasts that the boarding-school-bred “brand architect” “works with Sidney Powell and the Legal Defense Fund for the American Republic to defend against election fraud.” And his page links to DefendingtheRepublic.org, where Powell urged supporters to donate to her conspiracy-laced legal effort during an appearance on Lou Dobbs Tonight last month.
A pop-up message on RRMatheson.com and a voicemail greeting at the phone number listed on the site seem to point to Matheson’s continued involvement.
“If you are calling because you see a charge on your credit card receipt from RRMatheson or LDFFTAR.org, that is because we manage the donations for Sidney Legal Defense Fund, called Defending the Republic,” the voicemail message says.
Reached by email, Powell said Matheson had volunteered to ”get it all started for me,” before saying there were no current ties. Powell—a former federal prosecutor who now claims an elaborate plot involving Venezuela, China, and Iran switched millions of votes from Trump to President-Elect Joe Biden—did not answer further questions regarding her relationship with Matheson or whether he had personally kicked cash into the legal fund.
Matheson is a longtime Republican Party donor who hosted Vice President Mike Pence for a fundraiser at his family’s abode in Newport, Rhode Island in 2016. But his D.C.-area roots reach deep into one of America’s foremost industrial dynasties—and into the White House itself.
An obituary published in The New York Times in June identifies Matheson as the grandson of late, legendary Washington socialite Ruth Buchanan, herself the granddaughter of Herbert Henry Dow, the founder of Dow Chemical. A sprawling multinational, Dow has historically produced everything from breast implants to Agent Orange to polystyrene to pesticides to nuclear bombs.
Wiley T. Buchanan, Matheson’s grandfather, was a relative of James Buchanan, the 15th president of the United States. The latter-day Buchanan served as an ambassador and chief of protocol at the State Department during the Eisenhower administration.
Matheson’s own career has been somewhat less illustrious. A self-described “serial entrepreneur,” Matheson has dabbled in Senate lobbying, real estate, apparel design, a co-working start-up, creative writing, and contributing to Forbes.com, along with numerous other ventures.
In recent years he appears to have become increasingly politically engaged—and increasingly attracted to the outer edges of the conservative movement. A supporter of now-Sen. Mitt Romney’s presidential aspirations in 2012, he has funneled thousands to Trump’s electoral efforts since 2016. He operates Calamo Press, a small imprint that publishes such titles as How to Bag a RINO, a guide to the Tea Party-driven defeat of former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2014; The Memo, by Richard Higgins, the National Security Council official fired in 2017 for promulgating conspiracy theories about a “globalist” plot to undermine Trump; and ex-Ambassador Pete Hoekstra’s Architects of Disaster, which purports to be "the real story behind the tragic events in Benghazi and the Obama administration's disastrous foreign policy catastrophe in Libya."
Archived tweets from 2017 show Matheson amplified such fringe figures as serial fraudster Jacob Wohl, columnist Ann Coulter, and alt-right personality Mike Cernovich. He also retweeted a post supportive of far-right French politician Marine Le Pen from the now-defunct account “Pamela Moore”—now known to be a sock puppet of a Russian government troll farm. In July of this year, Matheson launched The Foundation for the American Republic, which describes itself as “working on 501(c)3 status” in order to raise money for right-wing influencers and journalists.
Matheson’s own active social media accounts have a similar flavor to his defunct Twitter. One of his first posts on Gab—a platform popular among white supremacists—in 2016 requested a follow from the notoriously racist and anti-Semitic troll account @Ricky_Vaughn99, since exposed as Manhattan-based economist Douglass Mackey.
Matheson also shared other Gab users’ posts calling for a ban on burkas and promoting an article from the far-right Big League Politics blog with the headline “In 2019, the U.S. Was the #1 Country in Trying to Turn Itself into a Third World Hellscape Through Refugee Settlement.”
Meanwhile, on Parler—another site beloved by right-wing figures for its lack of standards—an account using Matheson’s name and picture heavily promoted the failed congressional candidacy of Muslim-baiting activist Laura Loomer and echoed posts attacking Islamic religious law and candidates belonging to the world’s second-largest faith. On Nov. 7, he claimed to be “working with the Trump team here in Philadelphia.”
One day earlier, he had registered the website for the “Election Integrity Funds for the American Republic.” A Matheson-controlled landing page asserts that this entity is “not directly connected to Sidney Powell’s legal defense fund,” but the site itself asserts that donations made through it go toward the Legal Defense Fund for the American Republic, the original name for the entity bankrolling Powell’s so-called Kraken suits. EIFFTAR.org also allows would-be contributors to earmark gifts for Pennsylvania, Georgia, or “cyber election fraud.”
Matheson did not respond to repeated requests for comment.