Republican mega-donor Peter Thiel is hosting a fundraiser for Arizona Senate nominee Blake Masters at his Los Angeles home next week after GOP officials asked the tech mogul for more money to go into the final stages of November’s midterm elections.
The invitation lists Thiel as the host for the Masters campaign event and says the gathering will be held on September 30 at his $5 million home in Southern California. Tickets to the event range 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 and invitation.
Other co-hosts of the event include several of Thiel’s allies, including Keri Findley, the investment firm’s CEO Tacora Capital, whose fund was once backed by Thiel, and longtime hedge fund manager Michael Wang, whose social media investing platform was reportedly backed by Thiel. Erik Finman, an associate of Thiel who became a bitcoin millionaire when he was 18, is also listed as a co-moderator.
Thiel’s move to host Masters comes as donations from the tech mogul to separate super PACs supporting Masters and Ohio Senate nominee JD Vance appear to have dried up with just under 50 days until the November election. Thiel listed $15 million apiece, spread across multiple donations to Protect Ohio Values, a super PAC supporting Vance, and Saving Arizona, an outside group supporting Masters, during primary races, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
His last donation to the PAC in support of Vance was in April, while his last donation to Saving Arizona was in July. According to FEC records, he has yet to give them money for the general election, in which candidates will face Democrats in hard-fought Senate races.
A poll by Real Clear Politics shows Vance is a little over two points ahead of House Representative Tim Ryan in a bid to retire Senator Rob Portman’s GOP seat. Masters, meanwhile, is behind incumbent Senator Mark Kelly, D-Ariz. by almost three points. Masters and Vance were endorsed by former President Donald Trump. Both races could determine control of the US Senate, with Democrats holding 50 seats and Vice President Kamala Harris potentially breaking all ties.
Masters’ campaign, which has raised just $4.9 million, needs more money to fight Kelly, who has more than tenfolded him in donations of $54 million.
Republican leaders and campaign officials, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have reportedly asked Thiel to help Vance and Masters with the general election. The Washington Post reported that Thiel initially rejected McConnell’s requests.
“Not now,” was the response from Thiel and his team over the past few weeks when asked for additional donations for either Vance or Masters, one of the people said.
However, Thiel was a prominent guest at a recent Masters fundraiser at the Florida home of Keith Rabois, a general partner of Thiel’s co-founded venture capital firm Founders Fund. Businessman Tom Sauer, the tweeted A photo of Thiel speaking at the Rabois fundraiser is also listed as co-hosting the fundraiser at Thiel’s home.
Those who spoke to CNBC about Thiel’s maneuvers did so on condition of anonymity so they could speak freely about private conversations.
Vance and Masters both worked with Thiel before launching their Senate campaigns. Vance once worked at the investment firm Mithril Capital, which Thiel co-founded, while Masters was Thiel Capital’s chief operating officer.
Some of Thiel’s staffers, who asked not to be named to speak freely about his fundraising strategy, say he is frustrated by what he previously saw as a lack of funds from other groups, including the Senate Leadership Fund, a super -PAC who is connected to McConnell. Thiel didn’t want to invest too much in the races unless GOP leaders were willing to put their own money to work to increase the party’s chances of retaking the Senate, they said.
“It’s a chicken game between McConnell and Thiel,” an ally of the tech billionaire told CNBC.
Thiel has publicly indicated that he does not fully endorse the Republican Party’s message during this election. “My rating on the 22 cycle is that we’re doing even less well on the contract with America than we did in 1994, we’re doing less well than we did in 2010,” when the conservative Tea Party came to power, Thiel told the National earlier this month Conservatism Conference.