Pro-Trump super PAC America First Action seeks donations from billionaire Peter Thiel as the battle for Congress escalates

  • Pro-Trump America First Action super PAC wants to add billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel to its list of high-profile donors, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.
  • It is unclear whether Thiel, a big donor to pro-Trump groups in 2016, will throw the group his support.
  • Going into this year's midterm primary season, several of Trump's closest confidants were concerned that Thiel would be a no-show in the campaign.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, right, and PayPal founder Peter Thiel, center, listen as President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with technology industry leaders at Trump Tower in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016.
Evan Vucci | AP
Apple CEO Tim Cook, right, and PayPal founder Peter Thiel, center, listen as President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with technology industry leaders at Trump Tower in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016.

A leading pro-Trump super PAC wants to add billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel to its list of high-profile donors, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

It is unclear whether Thiel will contribute to America First Action despite his support for President Donald Trump in the 2016 election. The group's intentions make it clear that the early Facebook investor and PayPal co-founder's money is still highly sought-after in Republican fundraising circles, particularly as the GOP tries to defend its majorities in Congress this fall.

America First Action's finance chairman would neither confirm nor deny that Thiel, who has an estimated net worth of $2.6 billion, was on the super PAC's target list.

"We don't discuss our donors or potential donors in public," said Roy Bailey, a financier based in Dallas.

A spokesman for Thiel and other representatives for the super PAC did not return requests for comment.

Going into this year's midterm primary season, several of Trump's closest confidants were concerned that Thiel would be a no-show in the campaign after some White House officials purportedly gave the Silicon Valley tycoon the cold shoulder, sources told CNBC in May.

Thiel appeared to limit his contributions in the early stages of the 2018 election cycle. His largest donation, $66,100, went to the National Republican Congressional Committee last September, according to Federal Election Commission records. He gave his most recent five-figure payout, $33,900, to the NRCC in November. He also gave $5,000 to Facebook's political action committee in May.

Thiel has a record of giving big to pro-Trump causes, and the president's loyalists hope he will come through again this time to help preserve Republican majorities in the House and Senate.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Thiel gave $1 million to the pro-Trump super PAC Make America Number 1 and $250,000 to the Trump Victory Committee, a joint effort between the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee. He was also a featured speaker at the 2016 Republican National Convention before Trump's official nomination.

Thiel is a major player in Silicon Valley and Washington. In addition to his involvement with Facebook and PayPal, he co-founded data-mining firm Palantir Technologies, which has received lucrative government contracts in recent years. In March, the company snagged a deal to provide software for the Army.

In April, Thiel dined with Trump and Oracle CEO Safra Catz. In June 2017, Thiel took part in a White House meeting, led by the president, which included other tech industry leaders, including Apple's Tim Cook, Alphabet's Eric Schmidt and Microsoft's Satya Nadella.

Thiel has offered a mix of praise and criticism for the Trump administration. He told The New York Times in March that "there are all these ways that things have fallen short," although he stressed that he did not regret his Trump support.

The America First Action super PAC and its sister nonprofit America First Policies are looking to raise $100 million in their efforts to back Trump's administration and keep Congress under Republican control.

If Thiel cuts the group a check, he would join a growing list of high-profile donors to America First.

In June, the PAC received a second $2 million check from real estate tycoon Geoffrey Palmer. The PAC has also received the backing of Hawaii Gardens Casino President Cherna Moskowitz, oil tycoon Harold Hamm, and Steve Wynn, former CEO of Wynn Resorts.

Wynn gave his $500,000 contribution in January, just days before the first reports of his alleged sexual harassment were published, according to first-quarter financial data. CNBC first reported that the PAC refused to give back the donation even after his alleged victims came forward.