Andrew WhitmanOct 26, 2017, 1:30 pmOct 26, 2017, 3:57 pm

What role do super PACs play in political campaigns and where's the controversy?

News broke that major Trump donor, Robert Mercer, gave $1 million to a pro-Astorino super PAC

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An infusion of cash and controversy into the re-election efforts of Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino tonight.

After Astorino tried to distance himself from President Trump at Tuesday's FiOS1 debate — this morning came word that major Trump donor Robert Mercer just gave $1 million to a pro-Astorino super PAC.

So who is Robert Mercer?

Robert Mercer is among the biggest donors to republican and conservative causes in the nation, but is best known for his associations with President Trump, Breitbart News, and the alt-right with pockets deep enough to rival the Koch brothers and positions even further to their right.

Politico reporting Wednesday that Mercer put $1 million into a super PAC win for New York, aimed at helping Astorino and attacking his opponent, State Sen. George Latimer.

Super PACs are separate from campaigns — and by law, cannot formally work together — though the lines between super-PACs and campaigns are often rather blurred.

This is after Mercer gave $1.5 million to a pro-Astorino super PAC during the 2014 gubernatorial race.

Mercer is a massive donor to far-right political causes and a lightning rod for democrats.

The former Westchester native gave more than $22 million to republicans last year, including President Trump's campaign and was so influential, his daughter, Rebekah, got a prominent position in the Trump transition team and was reportedly behind the move to oust Chris Christie as transition chairman, replacing him with Mike Pence.

Mercer is also a major investor in Breitbart media.

Mercer is notoriously media-shy, but according to reports, he holds some controversial, borderline offensive positions, including that the Civil Rights Act was a mistake, that African-Americans were better off economically before the Civil Rights Movement, and that there are no white racists in America today, only black racists.

While Breitbart, which billed itself as the platform for the alt-right, has used Mercer's money to publish stories defending the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, defended the Confederate Flag, and traded in misogyny — writing at one point birth control makes women unattractive and crazy.

Given those quotes and the $1 million support for Astorino – FiOS1 asked him Wednesday about Robert Mercer and gave Astorino a chance to distance himself. He declined.

As for Astorino's opponent, State Sen. George Latimer, he's not buying Astorino's point that Mercer donating to a pro-Astorino super PAC is any different than a donation to Astorino himself and says Mercer's money is just another policy point — showing Astorino is tied to President Trump.

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