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Peter Thiel bets on the far right: Tech tycoon spending millions to bankroll "Trump wing" of GOP

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Billionaire Republican donor Peter Thiel is bankrolling election conspiracists and primary challengers against Republicans who backed Donald Trump's impeachment after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, including an Arizona Senate candidate who is literally on his payroll.

Thiel, the Facebook board member who co-founded PayPal and later the controversial data-mining company Palantir, has long been a top Republican benefactor, donating millions to GOP candidates and political action committees. But in the wake of Trump's 2020 defeat, Thiel has grown more aggressive in his political investments, dropping more than $20 million to support two far-right Senate candidates and helping to fund primary challengers against Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and other Republicans who called for Trump's removal after the deadly riot.

"He wants to be the patron of the Trump wing of the Republican Party," said Max Chafkin, a Bloomberg reporter and author of "The Contrarian: Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley's Pursuit of Power." Thiel is focused on building out "Trumpism after Trump," Chafkin said in an interview with Salon, describing the tech billionaire as "in many ways further to the right than Trump."

Thiel, who donated $1.25 million to back Trump in 2016, has made an even bigger splash this election cycle with a $10 million donation to back his protégé Blake Masters, who plans to run for the Republican nomination in next year's Arizona Senate election. Masters is uniquely connected to Thiel, serving as the chief operating officer of Thiel Capital, the billionaire's venture capital fund, and co-writing Thiel's book "Zero to One."

While candidates like Virginia's Glenn Youngkin have stepped away from their corporate careers to run for office, Masters appears to still be on Thiel's payroll. He earned $775,000 from Thiel Capital last year and received more than $340,000 in royalty payments from the sales of "Zero to One," according to a personal finance disclosure that was first reported by Insider. Masters did not respond to questions from Salon about whether he still collects a salary from Thiel's company, but still lists himself as the firm's COO on his LinkedIn page.

Thiel last month hosted a fundraiser for Masters' campaign at his Los Angeles home that cost up to $5,800 to attend.

Saving Arizona PAC, the Thiel-funded effort that has already spent nearly $1.7 million in Arizona, has launched ads attacking state Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Masters' principal GOP opponent, for rejecting........

© Salon

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