PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel donated $10 million to a super PAC backing “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance’s possible Senate bid in Ohio, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
Thiel, the co-founder of Palantir and a Facebook board member, donated $10 million to Protect Ohio Values.
The super PAC was formed last month to back Vance’s potential bid.
"We're a network of grassroots conservatives committed to electing a Senator who will stand for and defend Ohio's values in Washington, DC,” its website says. “We believe J. D. Vance is the right man for the job and we are signing up supporters and raising funds to demonstrate a groundswell of support in the Buckeye State."
Vance, who works as a venture capitalist, drew national notoriety in 2016 with his best-seller, which some touted for its insights into Appalachia while others criticized for overly generalizing conditions of poverty and ignoring racial issues.
He previously considered a Senate bid in 2018 but ultimately chose not to challenge Democrat Sherrod Brown, who was re-elected.
Bryan Lanza, a communications adviser at Protect Ohio Values and a former Trump campaign aide, confirmed the news to the Enquirer.
He told the outlet that the billionaire Mercer family, which spent millions to back Trump in 2016, also made a significant donation but did not say how much.
The Ohio Senate race is expected to see a crowded field after incumbent Republican Sen. Rob Portman announced his retirement.
Former state treasurer Josh Mandel and former Ohio Republican Party chief Jane Timken have already announced their own bids.
Thiel, Mercer have extensive ties to Vance:
Thiel was a key funder of Vance’s Narya Capital venture fund, which the Enquirer noted took its name from “one of the three Rings of Power in J. R. R. Tolkien's ‘Lord of the Rings’ novels.”
Vance also worked at Thiel’s venture capital firm after graduating from Yale Law School.
Vance also reportedly advised Rebekah Mercer at Parler, the far-right social network she co-founded, according to BuzzFeed News.
Parler also sought to raise funds from Vance’s firm.