In the past, some pundits described billionaire PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel as a "libertarian." But in recent years, Thiel's donations to Republican candidates have been decidedly MAGA — and according to New York Times reporters Ryan Mac and Lisa Lerer, Thiel is going out of his way to support far-right Donald Trump loyalists in the 2022 midterms.
"Mr. Thiel, who became known in 2016 as one of the biggest donors to Mr. Trump's presidential campaign, has reemerged as a key financier of the Make America Great Again movement," Mac and Lerer explain in an article published on Valentine's Day. "After sitting out the 2020 presidential race, the venture capitalist this year is backing 16 Senate and House candidates, many of whom have embraced the lie that Mr. Trump won the election. To get these candidates into office, Mr. Thiel has given more than $20.4 million."
Mac and Lerer note that according to OpenSecrets, Thiel and Citadel CEO Kenneth Griffin are "the largest individual donors to Republican politics this election cycle."
Thiel obviously isn't looking for moderation in the Republicans he donates to. At a recent event in Miami, according to the Times' sources, Thiel described Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming as the face of "the traitorous ten" —which is how he views non-MAGA Republicans.
Mac and Lerer stress that "what sets Mr. Thiel's spending apart" from Griffin's is Thiel's disdain for moderation and a preference for "hard-right candidates who traffic in the conspiracy theories espoused by Mr. Trump and who cast themselves as rebels determined to overthrow the Republican establishment and even the broader American political order."
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Lee Drutman, a senior fellow for the group New America, told the Times, "When you have a funder who is actively elevating candidates who are denying the legitimacy of elections, that is a direct assault on the foundation of democracy."
According to Mac and Lerer, Thiel's donations underscore a strong belief in the MAGA movement.
"The candidates Mr. Thiel has funded offer a window into his ideology," the reporters observe. "While the investor has been something of a cipher, he is currently driven by a worldview that the establishment and globalization have failed, that current immigration policy pillages the middle class and that the country must dismantle federal institutions."
One MAGA Republican who has noticed the types of Republicans Thiel is supporting is Steve Bannon, far-right host of the "War Room" podcast and former White House chief strategist.
Bannon told the Times, "I don't think it's just about flipping the Senate. I think Peter wants to change the direction of the country."
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