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The Epic Back-Scratching Fest Between a GOP Senate Wannabe and a Trumpy Billionaire

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Arizona Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters has made no secret of his connections to his longtime business partner and biggest political benefactor, billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel. But new reporting shows that Masters can’t seem to quit promoting Thiel businesses on the campaign trail—and that Thiel or Masters can’t seem to stop making questionable in-kind contributions.

Masters announced last month that he had left his top positions at two organizations named after Thiel, who has poured more than $10 million of support into the Senate bid. But a Daily Beast review of business, campaign, and tax records reveals that Masters appears still far from severing his shared interests with his mentor.

Brendan Fischer, deputy executive director at Documented, told The Daily Beast that the facts demonstrate an inextricable connection.

“This further underscores how Masters’ candidacy is almost inseparable from its billionaire backer,” Fischer said. “Thiel helped launch Masters’ career, dumped $10 million into a super PAC backing Masters, appeared with Masters at a Club for Growth donor summit, and is deeply and personally involved with raising money for Masters’ campaign.”

“I’m struggling to think of another example of a politician who would owe so much of their success to a single person,” he concluded.

Jordan Libowitz, communications director at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, expressed a similar sentiment.

“It does seem to present at a minimum an optics issue, because it appears Masters is using his campaign to promote his biggest financial backer. A campaign can’t be run for anyone’s personal benefit,” Libowitz said.

Masters, 34, has never sought political office and hails from the West Coast world of tech capital investment. Almost all of his adult life has been tied in some way to Thiel, a billionaire Facebook investor and former board member Masters met while studying at Stanford Law School.

Today, Masters is running on a hard-right, pro-Trump, anti-institutional, MAGA-libertarian platform, with the gaps in that ideology filled in with election fraud rhetoric and anti-immigrant red meat, and finished with a sprinkling of technocratic autonomy.

That perspective, as journalists have noted, is largely a reflection of Thiel’s own distinctive political blend, and largely mirrors another thirty-something Thiel protege-cum-Senate hopeful:J.D. Vance. (Thiel has reportedly brought Masters and Vance to meet Trump, though the ex-president still hasn’t coughed up an endorsement in either of their races.)

Masters, who officially launched his bid last July—months after Thiel threw $10 million into a super PAC supporting him—says he fully intends to win the Arizona GOP primary this August. But even with Thiel’s support, his poll numbers have flagged, though he topped the field in a recent survey funded by the Thiel super PAC.

Still, Masters didn’t appear to have his substantial conflicts of interest squared away when he entered the fray.

Despite months of criticism over those ties, Masters only announced his intent to resign from his prime benefactor’s groups in October, after submitting his personal financial disclosure seven weeks late. It apparently took another five months to........

© The Daily Beast

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