Bryan Lanza, the communications adviser for the Protect Ohio Values super PAC, confirmed the Thiel donation and said members of the Mercer family also had made a “significant contribution” but declined to disclose the amount. The Thiel donation, first reported by The Cincinnati Enquirer, was made Friday, Lanza said.
Robert Mercer, who made billions running a hedge fund, and his daughter Rebekah Mercer both backed President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. During that campaign, Thiel was the most prominent Silicon Valley figure to support Trump.
Vance, who gained fame as the author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” a memoir about his impoverished childhood and Appalachian roots, has not declared his candidacy for the Ohio seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Rob Portman, who has announced he won’t run for reelection in 2022.
Former Ohio GOP Chair Jane Timken — a major Trump donor along with her husband, former steel company executive Tim Timken — and former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel are already running for the seat. The potential Democratic candidates include Rep. Tim Ryan, former Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton and state House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes.
Under federal law, super PACs can raise and spend unlimited amounts, but they are not allowed to coordinate their spending decisions with the candidates they support.
“We thought it was important to get our voices out early so he knows he has support,” Lanza said of the super PAC’s early activity.