aWhile the Republican primary is taking place in the United States, the most requested endorsement remains that of former President Donald Trump. But when it comes to the most important part of any American campaign – money – another figure emerges on the right side of American politics that becomes just as important.
Dubbed “Don” from the original PayPal Mafia, a group that includes Elon Musk and Peter Thiel, PayPal founder and former CEO, is establishing themselves as a serious, powerful player in right-wing American politics by utilizing the power of his vast fortune.
Thiel, billed as a billionaire venture capitalist and tech pioneer, has pumped more than $10 million into a super-fine package and endorsed Hillbilly Elegy author JD Vance, winner of the Republican primary for an open seat in the U.S. Senate in Ohio.
In August, Thiel’s support will be tested again after he took $13.5 million to support former employee Blake Masters in the hard-earned Republican primary for a US Senate seat in Arizona.
Either way, Thiel has spent his money – his fortune in the region is said to be $6 billion – working behind candidates aligned with Trump’s right-wing agenda in the 2022 midterm elections.
Earlier this year, Thiel resigned from the board of directors of Meta, where he was an early investor and longtime advisor to CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “He wanted to avoid being a distraction to Facebook,” said a person close to Thiel. With his resignation this month, the source told Forbes Thiel “he believes the Republican Party can advance Trump’s agenda and wants to do whatever it takes to support it.”
But there is a void between Trump’s overall political agenda and Trump himself, as the former president tends to select candidates who support his stolen election claims. Not everyone has succeeded or is likely to do so. Trump’s failed endorsement of David Purdue as the Republican candidate for governor in Georgia sounded a personal grudge against incumbent President Brian Kemp, who endorsed Biden’s 2020 victory.
Tell Trump helped so far. By some estimates, Thiel donated $25 million to 15 other House and Senate candidates for 2022 who fall behind Trump’s vote-fraud streak.
Max Shafkin, author of the biography of Thiel the opposite He recently wrote that Thiel’s goal is to turn Trump’s ideology into a “disciplined political programme.”
As for Till, Vance, and Masters’ recommendations, it follows a $300,000 donation to the campaign by far-right Senator Josh Hawley, who ran for attorney general in Missouri in 2016. He also donated money to help elect Trump to the presidency and spoke on his behalf at the Republican National Convention .
Till stayed out of the 2020 presidential campaign, instead donating $2.1 million to the Super PAC supporting Chris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State who proposed creating a registry of Muslim immigrants and visitors.
“Thel is a major conservative donor, and is able to support candidates who may need additional support. His spending on Target and his ability to spend millions can have an impact,” Sheila Krumholz told Open Secrets.
While Trump often appears as a one-issue political actor — obsessed with defeating the 2020 election — Thiel is more flexible about what he advocates, Krumholz says.
“When it comes to major party-related donors, there are often people who have been active for decades, but Peter Thiel cuts a different character. He is an entrepreneur, he is a tech specialist, he is very successful and is seen as part of the conservative youthful avant-garde some see It’s more liberating.”
“They may be Trump supporters, but their wallet and personality weaken the connection,” Krumholz adds.
Like Musk, Thiel — who was dubbed The Dungeon Master by the New York Review of Books because he played Dungeons & Dragons as a teenager and read the JRR Tolkien trilogy ten times — paints a contradictory picture.
As an undergraduate, he founded the conservative Stanford Review, and in 1995 co-authored Thiel’s The Diversity Myth, a book that sought to question the impact of multiculturalism and “political correctness” on the California college campus.
The publication noted that, “In the bright and flat Silicon Valley, Thiel stands out as having retained the intellectual intensity of a literal college student, a trait that has made him an object of curiosity, admiration, and ridicule.” “He distinguished himself from the orthodoxy of social progress in the tech world for his conservatism and business acumen.”
In 2003 he co-founded Palantir Technologies, a company that supports US intelligence agencies in counterterrorism operations. Last week, Palantir and global commodity trading company Trafigura announced a new target market for tracking carbon emissions for the oil and gas, refining and concentration sectors. Reuters reported that BP is among its clients.
Thiel’s libertarian credentials, and perhaps in part his political motives, became public knowledge in 2016 when he funded a privacy-violation lawsuit brought by Terry Boulia, better known as wrestler Hogan, that led to the bankruptcy of news website Joker. The Joker outnumbered Thiel in 2007.
“It’s not about revenge but about targeted deterrence,” Thiel said of the operation. “I watched Gawker develop a unique and incredibly destructive way of using bullying to get attention, even in the absence of a public interest context…I thought it was worth resisting.”
He added that funding the lawsuit is one of the “biggest philanthropic things I’ve done”.
Blake Masters, the 35-year-old Republican Senate candidate from Arizona, suggested he would use the same tactic after the Arizona Mirror newspaper wrote that the candidate opposes abortion rights and “wants to allow states to use contraceptives to prevent them.” Masters argue these positions.
Masters wrote: “If I take leave after winning the election, I will be sued and I will easily prove my true malice.” in a tweet. “Joker found out the hard way, and so do you.”
Thiel said last year’s Masters “sees some things in me, but knows I’m going to be an independent-minded senator.”
But the biggest problem facing Thiel may be severe headwinds in the United States regarding big tech, social media, and free speech. Musk is also abandoning the tech world to influence US politics – he recently declared himself a Republican – and to enjoy free speech as he tries to disrupt social media to buy out the Twitter platform.
“[Tech is] “A state-of-the-art industry caught in the crossfire,” Krumholz said. There are many conflicting pressures in and within the tech industry. Technology is being seen as a scapegoat by some and is blamed for much of the misinformation, social media excesses, partisan divisions and extremism we see.”
Moira Weigel, a professor of communications at Northeastern University and founding editor of Logic magazine, argued for New Republic last year that Thiel doesn’t really matter: “What matters with him is who he connects with.”
At the moment, Till is busy networking with some of the most far-right politicians in recent US history.