Gay Donor’s Dough Becomes Controversy In Texas Senate Race

PeterThielIn the NPR article about gay political donations cited earlier, journalist Ari Shapiro mentions a 1988 incident in which Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis turned down a $1 million donation from gay donors. Juxtaposing that fact against today's far more gay-friendly fundraising climate showed how far the nation has come in terms of LGBT acceptance.

But that doesn't mean the States have completely evolved on the "acceptability" of LGBT dough. Just look down at Texas, where a donation from Peter Thiel (pictured) is complicating Tea Party U.S. Senate hopeful Ted Cruz's campaign.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Cruz's opponent in the upcoming GOP primary run-off, is currently criticizing his rival for accepting $5,000 from Thiel, the openly gay PayPal co-founder and Facebook investor who has dedicated hundreds of thousands to equality causes.* As the July 31 runoff nears, Dewhurst's team is saying self-proclaimed conservative Cruz's alignment with a pro-gay businessman is "deceptive." 

"It's hypocritical and deceitful for Ted Cruz to claim to be a Tea Party Republican when his largest donor spends millions of dollars pushing the opposite side of conservative issues important to Republicans," said Mark Miner.

Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, a former contender in this race, also used Thiel against Cruz, citing the $250,000 Cruz took from Thiel in his failed 2009 state attorney general race. "[Cruz] received a quarter-of-a-million dollars from the gay activist who was leading the fight for gay marriage in California," Leppert said.

Thiel had no comment on this controversy, but Cruz, who once attacked Mayor Leppert for attending Dallas pride, responded by reiterating his opposition to marriage equality, one of Thiel's primary political purposes.

"Ted's record of defending marriage between one man and one woman is as clear and unwavering as his commitment to reduce the size of government and defend the Constitution come hell or high water," said a Cruz spokesperson. The candidate, however, is "grateful" for any and all support.

*(In a strange "six degrees of Facebook separation," the site reporting on this, The Texas Tribune, is edited by Evan Smith, a former deputy editor at The New Republic, the liberal magazine now owned by gay Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes. The Texas Tribune headline on this topic is "Cruz Mega-Donor is Gay, Pro-Pot Billionaire.")


  1. patrick says

    I left Texas and never looked back. The homophobia is growing there exponentially day by day. Anything have to do with the dreaded “gay” is now considered political and social suicide. We have now seen the Republican platform which basically calls for the murder without penalties of all homosexuals. The frighteningly homophobic headline for this article just reinforces my fears for the gay people still in the state.

  2. barryearle says

    I’m not sure that analysis is true. After all, we’re talking Texas. I, too, wondered about why Thiel is giving so much money to a Tea Party candidate, something he did in the past when Cruz was running for attorney general. If Thiel is will to contribute $250,000 to a Tea Party candidate, I hope he’s also giving similar amounts to various LGBT causes, such as LGBT youth homelessness. In fact, we could use an infusion of cash here in Albuquerque to start a youth homeless shelter for our kids.

  3. says

    Libertarians are evil sob’s who wants the government to drop every last social program in the safety net: unemployment insurance, FDIC, veteran’s pensions and disability, programs for the poor and homeless, social security, medicare/ medicaid, and the ACA.

    So, that doesn’t help, Gus.

  4. Patric says

    Walt, Thiel is not making these donations as part of some effort to help a Democrat get elected. His views on a whole host of issues are startlingly right-wing. Here are a few examples from his Wikipedia bio:

    On women and democracy: “In an article for an issue of Cato Unbound, a publication of the Cato Institute, Thiel wrote: “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.” He elaborated by saying that “Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of “capitalist democracy” into an oxymoron.”[24] Thiel’s essay sparked immediate controversy and was criticized as misogynistic, racist, and utopian by many people including Jacob Weisberg and Amanda Marcotte.[25][26][27] Thiel later clarified several of his initial statements in a follow-up essay, stating that, “While I don’t think any class of people should be disenfranchised, I have little hope that voting will make things better.””

    O’Keefe Connection: “In 2009, it was reported that Thiel helped fund college student James O’Keefe’s “Taxpayers Clearing House” video – a satirical look at the politics behind the Wall Street bailout.[54] O’Keefe went on to produce the ACORN undercover sting videos.”

    Support for Prop 8 Backer Meg Whitman: “In 2010, Thiel supported [Prop 8 supporter] Meg Whitman, who as CEO of eBay had purchased PayPal from Thiel and his co-founders and investors, in her unsuccessful bid for the governorship of California[ against gay ally Jerry Brown]. He contributed the maximum allowable $25,900 to the Whitman campaign.”

  5. alguien says

    i really cannot say which is worse, the tea partiers attacking one of their own for accepting a donation from a gay donor or a gay businessman donating to the anti-gay tea party.

    actually, i’ll go with option 2. it’s far worse for a gay businessman to contribute to the tea party.

  6. shadowsblueandred says

    I love Texas for so many reasons.. I hate the LOUD douchebags that make the state look bad.

    Despite what you constantly hear: it is actually getting better here. Assholes live everywhere. I promise.

  7. shadowsblueandred says

    I love Texas for so many reasons.. I hate the LOUD douchebags that make the state look bad.

    Despite what you constantly hear: it is actually getting better here. Assholes live everywhere. I promise.

  8. Icebloo says

    I hate Tom Leppert. He’s a snake. He will say anything or do anything to get what he wants. He’s a sack of s*it ! He was a TERRIBLE Mayor. I hope he loses this election and fades back into the obscurity he deserves.

  9. Pathetic says

    Peter Thiel seems like a sad, pathetic, self-hating gay. Any gay person who would donate money to VERY anti-gay politicians who want to take away their rights is a disgrace.

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