Tag: Peter

Peter Thiel helped bankroll the GOP politicians who incited the Capitol insurrection / Queerty

Peter Thiel helped bankroll the GOP politicians who incited the

Facebook billionaire Peter Thiel may not be the first person you think of when it comes to the insurrection at the Capitol, where Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president today.

But thanks to his generous contributions to some rather odious politicians, he played a key role in putting the inciters in office, inevitably leading to their assault on our democracy.

First and foremost, Thiel was one of the few Silicon Valley figures willing to place a bet on Donald Trump. Thiel’s wholehearted endorsement of Trump earned him a primetime spot at the Republican national convention that year, where he praised the candidate and told the assembled crowd of right-wing party faithful that he was “proud to be gay.” (It was not exactly a big applause line.)

More to the point, at a time when Trump’s campaign was starved for cash in 2016, Thiel invested $1.25 million, making him one of Trump’s largest donors. The investment came late in the campaign after the tape of Trump boasting about sexual assault became public.

Thiel’s argument was basically that people should be taking Trump seriously but not literally and that he was not as bad as the other candidates. All along, however, Trump has been a literalist. He would have gladly sacrificed his own vice president to the mob if he could have stayed in the White House.

Thiel was also partly responsible for the presence in the Senate of Ted Cruz, who fueled the lie that the election was rigged even after the insurrection.

Thiel was the largest donor to the super PAC that was instrumental in helping Cruz secure the GOP senate nomination in 2012. When Cruz started his campaign, he polled in the low single digits. Thanks to the investment of wealthy donors like Thiel, he was able to score an upset.

And it’s not just Cruz. Thiel also made the maximum possible donation to Josh Hawley’s campaign for Senate in 2018. He had already given Hawley $300,000 two years before for Hawley’s run for Missouri attorney general. (Hawley is one of the most ardent religious right figures in public office, and Cruz’s counterpart in insurrection baiting.)

Trump, Cruz, and Hawley have all been branded as the lead inciters in the Capitol insurrection. They are in office, at least in part, thanks to Thiel’s financial backing.

This isn’t to say that Thiel underwrote the insurrection. He just bankrolled the politicians who inflamed the crowd with lies about the election.

But as a reminder, Thiel is no fan of the democratic system. He has said in the past he doesn’t believe freedom and democracy are “compatible.” He’s not a fan of the press either, despite his appearance on Fox’s Tucker Carlson Tonight to denigrate “identity politics,” as if that term could not describe Trump’s support for White Supremacists. He spent millions of his own money to fund the Hulk Hogan lawsuit that drove Gawker out of business, killing what surely would have been a critical source of Trump corruption coverage.

To make matters worse, Thiel this year contributed nearly a million big ones to Senate hopeful Kris Kobach,  a prototype for Donald Trump before Trump ever ran for president. The Republican made his reputation as the Kansas Secretary of State by crusading against immigrants and (imaginary) voter fraud, but he also trafficked in virulent homophobia. At one point, he compared homosexuality to drug use and polygamy. A few weeks after the donation, Kobach, deemed too extreme even for the GOP, was trounced in the primary by a more moderate Republican.

Thiel managed quite the feat: bankrolling the four horsemen of the democracy apocalypse, Trump, Hawley, Cruz, and Kobach.

To his credit, Thiel did give up on Trump in the 2020 campaign cycle, not contributing to the re-election campaign. Apparently, the administration’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic was too much for Thiel to swallow. reportedly calling the Trump reelection campaign, in a nice turn of phrase, the SS Minnow, a reference to the shipwrecked boat from Gilligan’s Island.

But even there, Thiel has a connection. Palantir, the data-mining firm that he founded, was awarded a contract by the Trump administration to track the virus. (That’s better than the awkward hand fondle Trump gave him for his support.)

Now, CDC officials are urging the Biden administration to dump the system Palantir created because they say it’s potentially inaccurate. Like the company founder’s political instincts, it appears to be deeply flawed.

Thiel is said to be focused on raising two kids with his husband; let’s hope that family leads to a “kinder, gentler” kind of political philanthropy in the post-Trump era. The world could use his help.

Peter Thiel is doubling down on the most awful candidates the GOP has to offer / Queerty

Peter Thiel is doubling down on the most awful candidates

Kris Kobach was a prototype for Donald Trump before Trump ever ran for president.

The Republican made his reputation as the Kansas Secretary of State by crusading against immigrants and (imaginary) voter fraud, but he also trafficked in virulent homophobia. At one point, he compared homosexuality to drug use and polygamy. 

Voters in Kansas are going to the polls today to decide whether Kobach should be the GOP nominee for the Senate. And his campaign has been picking up steam, thanks in no small part to Peter Thiel, the gay billionaire who founded PayPal and made a key early Facebook investment. Thiel has given a PAC supporting Kobach nearly $1 million, a sum that dwarfs the $400,000 that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is spending on behalf of Rep. Roger Marshall, Kobach’s opponent for the party nomination.

In light of Thiel’s past support for Trump, the donation can hardly be a surprise. Thiel spoke at the 2016 Republican convention, singing Trump’s praises (and giving the candidate cover for the anti-LGBTQ policies that his supporters wanted), and donated $1.25 million to Trump’s campaign.

Trump’s performance once in office did little to change Thiel’s support. “With all the flaws, all the challenges the Trump administration’s had, I believe it was incredibly important to articulate certain things about how our political institutions and our society were not working as well before,” Thiel claimed in 2018.

However, Trump’s disastrous handling of the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have led Thiel to shift gears. According to a report last month in the Wall Street Journal, Thiel has been telling friends “in private conversations from his oceanfront estate in Hawaii” where he is waiting out the coronavirus in luxury that he thinks Trump’s chances of re-election are dim. Thiel has taken to calling the Trump campaign the S.S. Minnow, a reference to the ill-fated tour boat from Gilligan’s Island.

Thiels is instead putting his money into Congressional campaigns in the apparent hope of salvaging Republicans from a complete rout this November. In choosing Kobach, however, Thiel is placing his bets on a particularly crazy horse. Establishment Republicans are desperate for Kobach to lose, convinced that he will repeat his disastrous performance as the 2018 gubernatorial nominee. Democrats are so eager for Kobach to be the nominee that they have actually been running ads promoting his strong ties to Trump. (Trump has not endorsed Kobach, apparently miffed that his endorsement in 2018 didn’t work.)

But Thiel is not really a Republican. He’s a libertarian. Which means he subscribes to some pretty far-out ideas, including the belief that freedom and democracy are, in his words, not “compatible.”  They’re the kind of ideas that are called provocative when a wealthy person holds them and crackpot when anyone else does.

It’s also the kind of philosophy that writer Ayn Rand, the major influence on libertarianism in the U.S., put forth in the mid-20th century. In her view, successful businessmen were superior beings being assaulted by the lower orders and the welfare state. (Just read Atlas Shrugged–if you can bear it.)

You can see why that would appeal to Thiel, who can happily support homophobes like Kobach while still enjoying the protections that wealth provides. Thiel just wants to blow the current system up altogether. If you want to burn the building down, you might pause to think about the people who live in it, though. For whatever reason, Thiel does not. Perhaps because he’s wealthy enough that he can live wherever he chooses and feels protected from the social discord that inequality is creating in America and around the world.

Thiel is described by friends as generous, intelligent, and thoroughly decent. He is married to a man and is raising two kids. But even parenthood has not seemed to change his radical political views. Kobach is particularly pointed in his hatred of queer families.

Kobach claims same-sex parents are “certainly not good for the kids.” He has also compared marriage equality to drug addiction.

He also said that gay rights groups promote “homosexual pedophilia.”

Maybe Thiel’s lifeline to his campaign will cause Kobach to rethink his views, but we are not holding our breath.

So look for more Thiel investments in the worst candidates the GOP has to offer, the very candidates the GOP will have to banish if the party is ever to rid itself of the rot of Trumpism.

As long as Thiel is bankrolling those kinds of candidates, the rot will continue for a long, long while.