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Billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife dies at 82

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Richard Mellon Scaife, the billionaire heir to the Mellon banking and oil fortune and a newspaper publisher who funded libertarian and conservative causes and various projects to discredit President Bill Clinton, has died. He was 82.

Scaife died early Friday at his home, his newspaper, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, reported. Scaife's death comes less than two months after he announced in a first-person, front-page story in his Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he had an untreatable form of cancer.

"Some who dislike me may rejoice at the news," wrote Scaife, who acknowledged making political and other enemies. "Naturally, I can't share their enthusiasm."

He was the grand-nephew of Andrew Mellon, a banker and secretary of the Treasury who was involved with some of the biggest industrial companies of the early 20th century. Forbes magazine estimated Scaife's net worth in 2013 at $1.4 billion.

The intensely private Scaife became widely known in the 1990s when first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton said her husband was being attacked by a "vast right-wing conspiracy." White House staffers and other supporters suggested Scaife was playing a central role in the attack.

Several foundations controlled by Scaife gave millions of dollars to organizations run by critics of Clinton, including $1.7 million for a project at the conservative American Spectator magazine to dig up information about his role in the Whitewater real estate scandal.

Scaife rarely gave interviews, but in a sit-down with George magazine editor John F. Kennedy Jr. in 1998, he called President Clinton "an embarrassment."

In the interview, Scaife denied that his money helped support an effort to hurt the president, but he suggested Clinton might be linked to the deaths of dozens of administration officials and associates, including White House Deputy Counsel Vince Foster and onetime Commerce Secretary Ron Brown. Foster's death was determined to be a suicide; Brown died in a plane crash.

Scaife also accused Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel whose investigation led to Clinton's impeachment in the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal, to be a "mole working for the Democrats."

Scaife's stance toward the Clintons softened years later. In an interview published in early 2008, he told Vanity Fair magazine he and the former president had a "very pleasant" lunch the previous summer, and "I never met such a charismatic man in my whole life."

Clinton gave Scaife an autographed copy of his book, and Scaife said he later sent $100,000 to the Clinton Global Initiative. (Scaife also said philandering "is something that Bill Clinton and I have in common.")

Scaife's newspaper also endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton's bid for president in 2008.

Despite funding many causes dear to conservatives, Scaife was libertarian on many social issues. He supported Planned Parenthood and abortion rights, supported legalizing same-sex marriage and marijuana, and opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Scaife bought the Tribune-Review in suburban Pittsburgh in 1969, using its editorial pages to trumpet his views.

"I fell in love with newspapers as a boy, when my father bought me editions from around the country and abroad," Scaife told readers in the column announcing his cancer diagnosis. "The day I became a newspaper publisher, buying the Tribune-Review, remains one of the proudest, happiest moments of my life."

Scaife was a longtime supporter of Republicans, backing presidential candidate Barry Goldwater in 1964 and heavily funding the 1968 campaign of Richard Nixon.

In 1972, Scaife donated $1 million to Nixon in 334 separate checks to avoid paying gift taxes. After The Associated Press wrote a story about the money, Scaife insisted the Tribune-Review get rid of its AP service.

"He ordered us to come in and take out the wire machines that night," Pat Minarcin, then AP's Pittsburgh bureau chief, told The Wall Street Journal for a 1995 story.

Scaife also made headlines in recent years during a bitter divorce battle with Margaret Ritchie Battle Scaife, his second wife. The divorce was finalized in 2012. His first marriage, to Frances Gilmore Scaife, also ended in divorce.

A Pittsburgh native, Richard Mellon Scaife was born in 1932, the son of Sarah Cordelia Mellon and Alan Magee Scaife. His mother was an alcoholic, and his upbringing has been described as cold and unhappy. He and his sister were raised by nannies.

He went to Yale but was expelled during his freshman year after a he rolled a beer keg down a flight of stairs, breaking the legs of a classmate, according to a 1999 story in The Washington Post.

Scaife admitted to becoming an alcoholic, and he had a reputation for having a fiery temper. He reportedly quit drinking in 1990 after going to the Betty Ford Clinic.

The Tribune-Review reported Scaife is survived by a daughter, Jennie K. Scaife, a son, David N. Scaife, a daughter-in-law, Sara Scaife; and two grandchildren.

The newspaper reported that a private memorial service would be held at a later date.

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phardynetmail July 04 2014 at 11:04 AM

Like most politically active billionaires, Richard Mellon Scaife inherited wealth--he did not earn it. Bur he made it his life's mission to punish Americans who were not as fortunate as he.

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5 replies
tullytowner July 04 2014 at 10:08 AM

Money cannot buy them eternal life....Buh bye, Greedy man

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5 replies
bigfile4 July 04 2014 at 10:55 AM

Too bad many of these Rich (you know whats) don't have better things to do with their bloated resources than to create dissention among their fellow citizens. Maybe if they had to work for a living they wouldn't have so much free time to express their sick takes on the World.

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2 replies
nburke78 bigfile4 July 04 2014 at 2:20 PM

He gave more to charity in one year than you will make in your entire life. It's not our fault you're poor and lazy.

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2 replies
prgrsiv nburke78 July 04 2014 at 2:51 PM

........it is your fault you're ignorant............

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katydid579 nburke78 July 04 2014 at 6:41 PM

Unfortunately, he only gave to charities that discriminated against Americans he didn't agree with.

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Freddie bigfile4 July 04 2014 at 7:46 PM

As opposed to the Hollywood elite who support this administration. They keep their wealth, and live very well, but the libs never complain about them!

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flabbanator July 04 2014 at 10:40 AM

A dead lying Republican...good the world is better off today.

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4 replies
chrisdough55 July 04 2014 at 11:28 AM

Good riddance to this fascist fool.

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2 replies
donpantanella chrisdough55 July 04 2014 at 12:35 PM

you sound like someone from New York...rude and liberal.

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1 reply
prgrsiv donpantanella July 04 2014 at 2:54 PM

.....you sound like a southerner....may be Texas.....just plain ignorant and a 'bagger.....

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corvettelover199 chrisdough55 July 05 2014 at 3:43 AM

you need to learn what fascism is before you use it dumb dumb

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antarescd July 04 2014 at 12:04 PM

Just another POS inheritor of great wealth who squandered his life working against the interests of the common man.

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3 replies
krs July 04 2014 at 2:58 PM

A person dies who happened not to be Liberal and all the Liberal Nut cases come out of the woodwork to show how happy a person is dead. You NEVER see conservatives come out and be this poisonous, that seems to be the mentality of the Left.

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2 replies
katydid579 krs July 04 2014 at 6:50 PM

krs: That is utterly untrue. The radical rightists are the first there to gloat when they perceive President Obama has done something they deem "wrong." They are also there first when a Democrat dies or is ill. They were the first to attack a sitting Democratic President and try to divert his attention from his job (which, of course, they couldn't do). The true mentality of the rightists is to do as much damage as they can to Americans and then try to blame the Democrats because the rightists will NEVER stand up and be responsible.

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3 replies
ac14426 krs July 05 2014 at 7:55 AM

WTF PLANET ARE YOU LIVING ON / URANUS ? That is not a Planet anymore, and you are a complete arschloss, watch 1 minute of FOX news and it will contradict your F***** stupid comment / I will have a drink for that MF passing/ may he R.I.Hell ! :)

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1 reply
welcome eric ac14426 July 05 2014 at 10:57 PM

I hope he's rewarded in heaven.

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prgrsiv July 04 2014 at 2:48 PM

....one down....so many more to go........

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1 reply
donpantanella prgrsiv July 04 2014 at 3:09 PM

Don't be shy, show everyone how a liberal reacts to the death of someone they disagree with.

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1 reply
welcome eric donpantanella July 04 2014 at 11:50 PM

No hopefully you will be.

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donpantanella July 04 2014 at 12:21 PM

People are sick minded and some of these comments prove it.

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2 replies
katydid579 donpantanella July 04 2014 at 1:34 PM

Yes, ALL of your comments are extremely sick minded.

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donpantanella donpantanella July 04 2014 at 2:13 PM

@katy, so in your mind saying that this man should "rot in hell" is being a true liberal? Your hate overrides your common sense.

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3 replies
Mike July 04 2014 at 1:40 PM

He now rots in hell. Good riddance to him.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
1 reply
donpantanella Mike July 04 2014 at 2:08 PM

And that would be because on April 20, 2008, two days before Pennsylvania's presidential primary, he endorsed Hillary Clinton for president?

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
katydid579 donpantanella July 04 2014 at 7:05 PM

No, that would be because, like you, he is a liar and a cheat.

Flag +1 rate up
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