Peter Thiel, president and founder of Clarium Capital Management LLC, speaks during the Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami, Florida, on Thursday, April 7, 2022.
Eva Marie Uzcategui | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Republican megadonor Peter Thiel is hosting a fundraiser at his Los Angeles home next week for Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters after GOP officials asked the tech mogul for more money heading into the final stretch of the November midterm elections.
The invite lists Thiel as the host for the Masters campaign event and says the gathering is set to take place on Sept. 30 at his $5 million home in Southern California. Tickets for the event go from $1,500 per person to $11,600 per couple and include a host and VIP reception, followed by a general reception, depending on the ticket, according to the invite.
Other co-hosts of the event include several of Thiel’s allies, including Keri Findley, CEO of investment firm Tacora Capital, whose fund was once backed by Thiel, as well as longtime hedge fund manager Michael Wang, whose social media investing platform was reportedly supported by Thiel. Erik Finman, a Thiel associate who became a bitcoin millionaire by the time he was 18, is also listed as a co-host.
The move by Thiel to host Masters comes as donations from the tech mogul to separate super PACs supporting Masters and Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance appear to have dried up with just under 50 days until the November elections. Thiel gave $15 million apiece spread across multiple donations to Protect Ohio Values, a super PAC backing Vance, and to Saving Arizona, an outside group supporting Masters, during the primary races, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
His last donation to the PAC backing Vance was in April, while he last gave to Saving Arizona in July. He has yet to give them any money for the general election that will pit the candidates against Democrats in competitive Senate races, according to FEC records.
A Real Clear Politics poll shows Vance leading over House Rep. Tim Ryan by just over 2 points in the bid for retiring Sen. Rob Portman’s GOP seat. Masters, meanwhile, is behind incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., by almost 3 points. Masters and Vance have been endorsed by former President Donald Trump. Either race could determine control of the U.S. Senate with Democrats holding 50 seats and Vice President Kamala Harris breaking any tie votes.
Masters’ campaign, which has raised just $4.9 million, needs more money to fight Kelly, who’s outraised him by more than tenfold with $54 million in donations.
Republican leaders and campaign officials, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have reportedly asked Thiel to help Vance and Masters in the general election. The Washington Post reported that Thiel initially rebuffed McConnell’s requests.
“Not now,” has been the response from Thiel and his team in recent weeks when asked for more donations for Vance or Masters, according to a person briefed on the matter
Thiel, however, was a featured guest at a recent fundraiser for Masters at the Florida home of Keith Rabois, a general partner in the venture capital firm Founders Fund, which was co-founded by Thiel. Businessman Tom Sauer, who tweeted out a photo of Thiel speaking at the Rabois fundraiser, is also listed as a co-host for the fundraiser at Thiel’s home.
Those who spoke to CNBC about Thiel’s maneuvers did so on the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely about private conversations.
Vance and Masters both worked with Thiel before they launched their Senate campaigns. Vance once worked at investment firm Mithril Capital, which was co-founded by Thiel, while Masters was chief operating officer at Thiel Capital.
Some of Thiel’s associates, who asked not to be named to speak freely about his fundraising strategy, say he’s been frustrated with what he previously saw as a lack of money from other groups, including the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC tied to McConnell. Thiel didn’t want to invest too heavily in the races if GOP leaders weren’t willing to commit their own money to bolster the party’s chances of taking back the Senate, they said.
“It’s a game of chicken between McConnell and Thiel,” an ally of the tech billionaire told CNBC.
Thiel has publicly hinted he doesn’t entirely support the Republican Party’s messaging during this election. “My scoring on the ’22 cycle is we are doing even less well than ’94 with Contract with America, we are doing less well than 2010” when the conservative tea party rose to power, Thiel told the National Conservatism Conference earlier this month.
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