An out-of-state billionaire who has previously funded attempts to defend controversial immigration laws is responsible for nearly all donations to Governor Greg Abbott's $ 54 million border wall fund.A member of one of America's richest family dynasties, Timothy Mellon, contributed almost 98% of the fund's total donations when he donated $ 53.1 million in stock to the Status as of August, according to public records. Mellon is the 79-year-old grandson of Wyoming-based bank mogul and former US Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon.Prior to Mellon's donations, Abbott's private fundraising campaign had stagnated at around $ 1.25 million by mid-August, two months after its launch - a drop in the bucket for a project whose price is estimated at several billion dollars. But on August 27, a state website that tracks donations to the crowdfunding effort said the fund had jumped to nearly $ 19 million. By the end of the month, it had passed $ 54 million.A dSince then, donations have stalled again.Mellon did not respond to multiple requests for comment from his New Hampshire-based company, Pan Am Systems, and a marketing company that was handling the publicity for his 2015 autobiography.Abbott declined to comment.Mellon does not appear to have strong ties to Texas. But he was a major donor to former President Donald Trump's re-election campaign, which has made building a border wall a top priority, and has already made donations to defend legislation targeting them. immigrants.In 2010, he donated $ 1.5 million unsolicited to the legal defense of an Arizona law that required police to determine the immigration status of those suspected of being in the country illegally, according to the Washington Post. Critics have said the law will lead to racial profiling. The law was challenged all the way to the United States Supreme Court, which struck down parts but left the section for officers to inquire about immigration status untouched.A dLast year, Mellon donated $ 20 million to America First Action, the main super PAC supporting Trump's re-election. Since 2018, he has donated $ 30 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund, the House GOP super PAC, and he has donated $ 30 million to the Senate Leadership Fund, which attempts to elect Republicans to the US Senate, in 2020.Mellon did not donate to Abbott, but he did give Republican gubernatorial challenger Allen West $ 2,500 when West ran for Congress in Florida in 2012. Mellon increased his political donations in 2018.While overwhelmingly supporting conservative campaigns and Republicans, Mellon also gave two Democrats: U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York in 2018 and former U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii for her candidacy for the nomination. 2020 Democratic presidential election. The Ocasio-Cortez campaign later said it had not requested the donation and would return it.Mellon took heat for using offensive stereotypes to describe black Americans in his self-published autobiography.A dIn the 2015 book, Mellon wrote that after the Great Society programs of the 1960s, which aimed to tackle poverty and racial injustice, black people "became even more belligerent and unwilling to get involved. to improve their own situation, \u201daccording to the Washington. To post.He also called the social safety net programs a \u201credux of slavery\u201d.Mellon is the president of Pan Am Systems, a privately-held transportation and freight company. In the 1980s, he founded a railway company called Guilford Transportation Industries. In the 1990s, he renamed the company after buying the bankrupt Pan Am Airways brand.Forbes estimated that Mellon was worth almost $ 1 billion in 2014, and last year the magazine estimated the Mellon family to be worth $ 11.5 billion.A dAbbott's participatory wallAbbott, a two-term Republican, has made border security his top priority this year as he seeks re-election next year and battles challenges from his right. Abbott blamed the Biden administration for an increase in the number of migrants at the border.In March, Abbott deployed state military and police resources to the border to help federal authorities enforce immigration law. In June, he announced a state of disaster in 34 counties that saw a sharp increase in migrant crossings and he unveiled his plan to build a state-funded border wall, picking up where Trump left off.The Texas Legislature has approved nearly $ 3 billion in the next two-year budget cycle for border security, with about $ 1 billion going to the governor's office for grants, of which $ 750 million is spent. to the construction of a border wall.A dTexas is already paying $ 25 million for a nearly 2 mile concrete barrier along State Loop 480 at Eagle Pass. Portions of the federal border wall started by the Trump administration and hung up by the Biden administration ranged from $ 6 million per mile to $ 34 million per mile for construction. Abbott's office said it has identified 733 miles of border that may require some type of barrier.While the state posts all private donations to the border wall on its website, it does not easily provide the names of individual donors, despite Abbott's early commitment that the crowdfunding effort would " transparency and accountability \u201d.A dOutside of Mellon, the fund has received more than 12,100 individual donations as of September 14, totaling approximately $ 1.3 million. The median donation was $ 50.This level of fundraising is more in line with a similar crowdfunding attempt by Arizona lawmakers 10 years ago to raise private funds for the construction of a fence on the Mexican border. This effort received about $ 270,000 in three years, according to The Arizona Republic.During the Trump administration, a nonprofit called We Build The Wall, which included its former political adviser Steve Bannon as a board member, raised $ 25 million for a border wall. Bannon and Brian Kolfage, the group's leader, were accused by the federal government in August 2020 of looting the charity for personal gain. Bannon was later pardoned by Trump.A dTax benefitTax experts say Mellon's decision to donate shares instead of cash could generate a tax advantage for the billionaire.Normally, a person has to pay taxes on the profits made on his investments when they are sold. But investors who donate shares to charity avoid paying tax on the income from their investment and benefit from a tax deduction for the full amount of the shares.\u201cIt's common to donate stocks that have increased in value because they can get rid of the earnings and deduct the donations,\u201d said Lloyd Mayer, professor at Notre Dame Law School.These donations are usually made to non-profit organizations. But under the tax code, a charitable contribution to a state would likely be tax deductible if it is "made exclusively for public purposes." Some people, for example, get tax deductions for donating to reduce the federal debt.A dThe only obstacle is to ensure that the money is only used for public purposes."In the case of [a] border wall, presumably built on public land, I think it would be hard to pretend there is private use, \u201dsaid Lisa De Simone, professor of accounting at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas in Austin.But Mayer said such donations raise questions about the undue influence of wealthy donors on government policy making.In June, Tennessee billionaire Willis Johnson offered South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem $ 1 million to help pay for a State National Guard's deployment to the border to aid Texas to catch people crossing illegally. State soldiers were then dispatched to the Texas border.\u201cWhat is controversial about these types of donations is whether they distort government priorities. If the government collects money in the form of taxes and the government - the legislature and the governor - decide how to spend it, they set their priorities according to the political environment, \u201dMayer said. "But if you open it up for donations, you are passing on to wealthy donors what the government should be spending its money on."A dDisclosure: The University of Texas at the McCombs School of Business in Austin financially supported The Texas Tribune, a non-profit, non-partisan news organization funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors . Financial support plays no role in the journalism of the Tribune. Find a suit list of them here.Subscribe to the news, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to date with Texas' most essential news.