Is Donald Trump personally profiting off of his political endorsements?
Donald Trump, the former president who is testing his political capital by endorsing large numbers of GOP candidates to bolster his own personal brand, is expected to endorse J.D. Vance, a far-right Christian conservative who last year was accused of antisemitism. Vance, a venture capitalist, is running to replace retiring Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman.
Some are suggesting financial gain.
A Trump endorsement in the tight six-way GOP primary could shake up the race. Despite tremendous name recognition Vance has been lagging way behind, currently in third place with just 11%. That’s about half the share of the leading candidate, businessman Mike Gibbons who is averaging 20 percent, according to Real Clear Politics. Far-right extremist Josh Mandel, the state’s former Treasurer, is in second place with 18.7 percent.
NBC News broke the story, reporting that the “Mandel people hit the roof,” citing “one Republican with knowledge of the discussions.” That Republican told NBC News U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan “tried to dissuade Trump on behalf of Mandel, whom the congressman supports.”
Before Trump was elected President, Vance, the author of the once-popular but now often derided memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” attacked him as “reprehensible.” He apologized in 2021 as he launched his Senate campaign.
Vance has endorsed Trump’s “Big Lie.” Last year CNN reported that “Vance, the most well-known of the candidates, blatantly lied about 2020, claiming that the tech industry had worked with Democrats to rig the election.”
“That’s why we have the disaster we have instead of a second term of Donald Trump,” he said.
Vance, or a pro-Vance super PAC, is being bankrolled by Peter Thiel, the Big Tech billionaire conservative-libertarian political activist and PayPal co-founder.
Thiel, as The Washington Post reported earlier this year, “invested $10 million in a political action committee in March [of 2021] to bolster Vance’s candidacy should he run. A few months later, Vance, a former employee of Thiel’s, made it official.”
Former federal prosecutor and former Republican turned Democratic activist, Ron Filipkowski, did not mince words in his opinion of what’s behind the anticipated Trump endorsement.
“Trump held out for a while to get a bigger check out of Peter Thiel,” says Filipkowski. “This means Blake Masters (AZ) will get the endorsement soon, and it wasn’t buy one, get one free either.”
Masters, who is president of the Thiel Foundation, is running for the U.S. Senate from Arizona.
It’s not the first time Filipkowski has suggested Trump is being paid by Thiel an endorsement. This from February:
In February The New York Times reported that “Thiel, one of Donald J. Trump’s biggest donors in 2016, has re-emerged as a prime financier of the Make America Great Again movement.”
Professor Donald Moynihan, the Chair at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, last year offered an opinion on why Thiel is getting so political.
“As Thiel accumulates massive wealth, he reinvests some of it into the political system, backing people like Trump and JD Vance, culture warriors who will keep you distracted while expanding a system that allows Thiel to accrue massive wealth w/o taxes.”
As some have also noted, in 2009 Thiel wrote: “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.”
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