Richard Mellon Scaife: Wikis


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Richard Mellon Scaife
Born July 3, 1932 (1932-07-03) (age 77)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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 two
Parents Sarah Mellon
Alan Scaife
Relatives Cordelia Scaife May (sister)

Richard Mellon Scaife (born July 3, 1932) is an American billionaire and newspaper publisher.

Scaife owns and publishes the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. With $1.2 billion, Scaife, a principal heir to the Mellon banking, oil, and aluminum fortune, is No. 283 on the 2005 Forbes 400.

Scaife is particularly well known for his financial support of conservative and right-wing public policy organizations over the past two 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, which ultimately led to the impeachment proceedings of President Bill Clinton.


Early life

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 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 ]

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]

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.)

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]


Purchase of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

In 1970, Scaife purchased a small market newspaper, then known as the Tribune-Review. The paper was based in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, a county seat of about 15,000 people located about 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. For a number of years, the paper was published and distributed in the small Greensburg market.[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 the overwhelmingly Democratic political officeholders in Westmoreland 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.[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

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]

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.[13] In 2009, Scaife reportedly "controlled" 42% of NewsMax, with Ruddy the 58% majority owner, CEO and editor.[14]

Politics and philanthropy

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

  • He was fond of newspapers he read during his childhood.
  • 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

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 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.

Opposition to Bill Clinton

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[15][16]

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 hyperbolic 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, 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".[17] 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 the shared view of himself and 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.[18]

Endorsement of Hillary Clinton

On April 20, 2008, two days before Pennsylvania's presidential primary, Scaife's Pittsburgh Tribune Review endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.[19]

Political donations

According to, 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."[20]

Management of the Scaife family foundations

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.[21]

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.[24]

Pepperdine University

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.

Other philanthropic support

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.[15]

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."[25]

Scaife has also supported non-political groups. He is a key benefactor of a number of Pittsburgh-based arts organizaions. 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

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.[26]

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.[27][28] Afterwards, Scaife placed a sign on his lawn: “Wife and dog missing - reward for dog.”[29]

On April 11, 2006 Scaife confided to a gossip columnist that he and Margaret "Ritchie" Battle Scaife, 58, 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.[28]

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.[30]

He was named to the PoliticsPA list of "Sy Snyder's Power 50" list of influential individuals in Pennsylvania politics in 2002 and 2003.[31][32]

See also


  • Baer, John M. "Hardly a Right-Wing Cause He Can Refuse," Philadelphia Daily News.
  • Bellant, Russ The Coors Connection: How Coors family philanthropy undermines democratic pluralism, (Boston: South End Press, 1991), covering the related political funding activities of Coors family.
  • Kaiser, Robert G. "Money, Family Name Shaped Scaife," Washington Post, May 3, 1999.
  • Kaiser, Robert G. and Chinoy, Ira. "Scaife: Funding Father of the Right," Washington Post, May 2, 1999.
  • Ira Chinoy and Robert G. Kaiser, "Decades of Contributions to Conservatism", Washington Post, May 2, 1999.
  • Kennedy, John F., Jr. and Scaife, Richard Mellon. "Who's Afraid of Richard Mellon Scaife? JFK, Jr. Interviews Richard Mellon Scaife," George magazine, January 1999.
  • Richard Mellon Scaife profile at NNDB.
  • Rothmyer, Karen. "The man behind the mask,", April 1998.
  • Rothmyer, Karen. "Citizen Scaife," abridged excerpt from Vetter, Herbert F., ed.Speak Out Against the New Right (Boston: Beacon Press, 1982).
  • Saloma III, John S. Ominous Politics: the new conservative labyrinth, (New York: Hill and Wang, 1984).
  • Savage, David G. "Richard Scaife: A 'Savior' of Right, a Scourge of Left," Los Angeles Times, April 17, 1998.
  • "Tribune-Review publisher's wife charged with trespass," Pittsburgh Post Gazette, December 27, 2005.


  1. ^ Special Report: Clinton Accused
  2. ^ Sarah Scaife Foundation
  3. ^ Karen Rothmyer: Citizen Scaife
  4. ^ a b c Scaife's Foundations
  5. ^ Obituary: Cordelia Scaife May / Reclusive Mellon heiress known for her generosity
  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 - New York Times
  9. ^ a b Scaife demands documents from Post-Gazette
  10. ^ Tribune-Review to reorganize papers - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
  11. ^ - Christopher Ruddy
  12. ^ Vince Foster factory, The | Columbia Journalism Review | Find Articles at
  13. ^ Poe, Richard. Hillary's Secret War: The Clinton Conspiracy to Muzzle Internet Journalists. Thomas Nelson, 2004, ISBN 0785260137
  14. ^ "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.
  15. ^ a b Funding Father of the Right
  16. ^ Money, Family Name Shaped Sciafe
  17. ^ Clinton gives interview to former foe
  18. ^ "So Happy Together Bill archenemy Richard Mellon Scaife now has 'admiration' for him. Huh?", Mark Hosenball, Newsweek, November 19, 2007
  19. ^ "In Pennsylvania's Democratic primary for president:Vote for Clinton.". Pittsburgh Tribune Review. 20 April 2008.  
  20. ^ "Pennsylvania's Top Political Activists". PoliticsPA. The Publius Group. 2002. Archived from the original on 2002-11-13.  
  21. ^ Heritage Foundation Board of Trustees,
  22. ^ "Dissenter on Warming Expands His Campaign" by Leslie Kaufman, The New York Times, Apr. 10, 2009. Retrieved 4/10/09.
  23. ^ A Vast Right-Wing Hypocrisy: Politics & Power:
  24. ^ Media Transparency, Aggregated Grants from the Scaife Foundations.
  25. ^ Sammon, Bill (Apr 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.  
  26. ^ Tribune Publisher's Wife Charged with Trespass}
  27. ^ Police: Woman assaults 3 in fight over dog—Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
  28. ^ a b Celebrity Scandals and Gossip - NY Daily News
  29. ^ "Sex and tongs - it’s divorce billionaire-style". The Sunday Times. January 20, 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-20.  
  30. ^ Low Road to Splitsville
  31. ^ "Sy Snyder's Power 50". PoliticsPA. The Publius Group. 2002. Archived from the original on 2002-04-21.  
  32. ^ "Power 50". PoliticsPA. The Publius Group. 2003. Archived from the original on 2004-04-17.  

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