Many of the country’s wealthiest GOP megadonors are betting heavily on the 2022 campaigns of some of the most extreme right-wing politicians in the United States, as evidenced by a Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) analysis of state and federal campaign finance data. Most of these families gave to four or more politicians affiliated with conspiracy theories and white nationalist groups, the Big Lie that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen,” and/or the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Many of these extremist candidates have used conspiracy theories, public outrage, and the media to develop impressive small donor bases. Yet they are also being rewarded royally by megadonors who shower their campaigns with the largest contributions allowed while bankrolling super PACs that spend even more to boost their election chances.
Leading the pack of far-right donors are the Uihleins, the billionaire family that owns the privately held shipping and packaging company Uline. Richard Uihlein, the company’s chairman, is a Trump megadonor who funnels most of his political contributions through super PACs that support his favorite candidates. Even though this coterie of campaign funders doesn’t often shy away from extremism, Uihlein is the only one to give directly to the campaign of U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.).
Gosar, whose siblings all denounce his extremism and blame him for helping to organize the deadly insurrection, has a history of showing sympathy for white nationalism. For the past two years, he has spoken at the America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC) organized by “groyper” leader Nick Fuentes, one of the most outspoken white nationalists targeting conservatives who aren’t deemed extreme enough.
In 2018, while on a trip to Europe to defend a high-profile Islamophobe, Gosar attended a dinner hosted by Trump’s former campaign CEO and White House adviser Steve Bannon. There he dined with far-right nationalists such as Belgian politician Filip Dewinter, who spoke at a white nationalist conference held by the hate group American Renaissance and whose political party has ties to Flemish Nazi sympathizers. It was a dinner that he subsequently omitted from his official travel report, according to Sludge.
— Filip Dewinter (@FDW_VB) July 21, 2018
In 2021, when Gosar posted a video on social media that depicted him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), House Democrats stripped him of his committee responsibilities and issued its first censure in over a decade. He also allegedly helped plan the Jan. 6 events to prevent Biden from becoming president. Yet even after these revelations, Richard Uihlein donated the maximum amount allowed for Gosar’s primary and general campaigns ($5,800 total).
The other member of Congress who spoke at AFPAC this year was Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-Ga.), a QAnon sympathizer who had no regrets about appearing at the event. Her participation prompted Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) to decry that Greene was now using her official “congressional account to promote anti-Semitic, white supremacist, pro-Hitler, pro-Putin” beliefs. Greene is also being investigated for her alleged role in the attack on the Capitol. During the pandemic, Twitter banned her for repeatedly posting false information about Covid-19 and she also lost her committee assignments in early 2021 due to her social media activity, which included condoning the execution of her Democratic colleagues, promoting racism and antisemitism, and spreading wild conspiracy theories.
This year, Richard Uihlien donated the maximum amount for both Greene’s primary and general campaigns ($5,800 total), and his relative, Lucia Uihlein, contributed $1,100.
But the Uihleins haven’t stopped there. Other extremists they’re funding in the current election cycle include Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), the former chair of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus and a major Big Lie promoter, who allegedly helped organize the rally that preceded the Capitol insurrection and previously spoke at an event organized by multiple hate groups; Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), a Freedom Caucus member who is also alleged to have helped organize the Jan. 6 events and who spoke at the rally while wearing body armor; Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), a young extremist who riled up the crowd in a speech at the Jan. 6 Stop the Steal rally and faces allegations of sexual misconduct and insider trading (Cawthorn lost his GOP primary on May 17; Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), a far-right Freedom Caucus member who has aligned himself with both the Proud Boys hate group and a Holocaust denier, and is under federal investigation for possible sex trafficking; Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), who promotes conspiracy theories about the Big Lie (despite not actually believing them) and Covid-19, including a recent, preposterous claim that the Covid vaccine may cause AIDS; and J.D. Vance, a fascist-friendly Peter Thiel ally who embraced endorsements from Greene and Trump as he surged ahead to win Ohio’s GOP primary for Senator in early May.
The Uihleins also haven’t stopped with congressional candidates. They recently contributed to the campaigns of state politicians who may be even more extreme than their compatriots in Congress.
Lucia Uihlein, a resident of Florida who may be Richard’s sister or niece (Lucia Uihlein, Lucia E. Uihlein, and Lucia L. Uihlein are all listed as donors from the same address; a Lucia Uihlein Higgins is listed on tax records as a director of the family’s Ed Uihlein Family Foundation), donated $2,500 to the reelection campaign of Arizona State Sen. Wendy Rogers (R). A fanatical proponent of the Big Lie and the state’s dubious election “audit,” Rogers embraces antisemitism and white nationalism, and when addressing AFPAC via live video this year, made antisemitic statements and called for the group’s political enemies to be hanged on a “newly built set of gallows.” Applauding Fuentes, the group’s leader, she called him a “patriot” and urged attendees to “please keep doing what you’re doing.” Although the Arizona State Senate censured her after her AFPAC appearance, she refused to apologize.
Rogers is a member of the Oath Keepers, an anti-government extremist militia group that was heavily involved in the Jan. 6 insurrection. The U.S. Justice Department has charged at least 19 Oath Keepers with crimes related to the insurrection, with 11 of them—including its leader—charged with seditious conspiracy for having planned the armed siege of the Capitol.
Last year, Rogers echoed a version of the central white nationalist conspiracy theory of the “Great Replacement,” which claims that a cabal of global elites and Jews is conspiring to replace white people with immigrants of color in the U.S. and Europe. This hateful theory, which Fox News host Tucker Carlson has brought into the mainstream in recent years without overtly naming Jews, is what motivated the terrorist who killed 11 people in a Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York on May 14. The Arizona Senate voted to investigate Rogers over her apparent claim that a federal agent carried out the mass shooting instead of a heavily armed white teenager.
We are being replaced and invaded. https://t.co/JEJaQjVC5E
— Wendy Rogers (@WendyRogersAZ) July 17, 2021
Trump endorsed Rogers in November 2021.
Richard Uihlein gave $7,000 to the campaign of U.S. Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), a Freedom Caucus member and Big Lie proponent who is now running for secretary of state in Georgia.
Altogether, Richard and his wife Elizabeth, along with Lucia and potentially her daughter (also named Lucia), have donated more than $68,000 to the 2022 campaigns of these ultra-extreme lawmakers.
Lewis Topper, CEO of Fast Food Systems in New York, is a Trump loyalist and GOP megadonor who, with his wife Margaret, has donated at least $59,000 to the most extreme elected officials in the country. Together, the couple has given $11,600 (the maximum amount allowed) to Brooks’ Senate campaign in Alabama; $10,000 to Rogers for her reelection campaign for state Senator in Arizona; $5,900 to Greene for her reelection to the House representing Georgia’s 14th District; and $15,000 to Hice for his secretary of state run in Georgia.
Lewis has also donated $8,700 to the reelection campaign of Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), an extremist with close ties to the anti-goverment militia movement the Three Percenters and who tweeted on the morning of Jan. 6, 2021 that “today is 1776,” and $2,000 to Mark Finchem (R), an Arizona state representative running for secretary of state who helped plan a Jan. 6 pro-Trump rally in Washington, D.C. Despite claiming he never got near the insurrection, photographs show Finchem standing near the Capitol’s east staircase as the mob attacked police and invaded building.
Finchem has been an active member of the Oath Keepers since at least 2014. After the insurrection, he falsely claimed that members of the antifa movement—not Trump supporters—stormed the Capitol. A few years earlier, he made the preposterous claim that the far-right Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia—which brought together neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates, and other white supremacists—was a “Deep State” operation that didn’t involve the far right.
The Toppers also maxed out to the Florida House campaign of self-proclaimed “proud Islamophobe” Laura Loomer, a Greene-endorsed candidate who supports a white ethnostate and has appeared at the white nationalist AFPAC, giving $5,800.
Roberta and Tatnall Hillman, a reclusive couple based in Aspen, Colorado, have donated at least $62,000 to the country’s most extreme elected officials. Tatnall is the son of the late billionaire John Hartwell Hillman, Jr., who made his fortune from coal, steel, and gas, and is heir to a portion of the Hillman fortune. According to a 2008 court document, his brother, Howard, views him as a “lazy and ungrateful dilettante, who ha[s] spent his adult life having fun.”
In 2022, the Hillmans have each given nearly the maximum amount allowed ($10,400) to Rogers’ state Senate campaign in Arizona as well as $10,000 to Finchem’s secretary of state campaign in Arizona and $15,200 to Hice’s campaign in Georgia. At the federal level, the couple has backed the most extreme members of Congress in the midterms, giving nearly $12,000 to Boebert, $2,900 to Brooks, $2,900 to Cawthorn, $2,900 to Greene, and $2,900 to Johnson.
A frequent donor to GOP super PACs, private equity billionaire John Childs resigned as chair of his Boston-based firm in 2019 after being charged with soliciting prostitution in a sex trafficking investigation. (He was later cleared of the charge.)
He and his wife, Marlene Childs, have donated more than $45,000 to extremist candidates in the current election cycle, with John accounting for most of the contributions. Last year, he gave the maximum amount allowed ($5,800) for the primary and general elections to Reps. Biggs, Boebert, Brooks, and Cawthorn, as well as $7,800 to Greene. Marlene added another $5,800 to Boebert’s House campaign, and this year John gave $8,500 to Johnson’s Senate campaign, which was transferred from a total donation of $11,600 to Johnson’s joint fundraising committee.
Other 2022 election cycle donors to multiple extremist candidates include:
- Emmanuel and Laura Zulueta of Apex, North Carolina gave a total of nearly $39,000 to the campaigns of Boebert, Brooks, Greene, and Johnson. Emmanuel is a former executive at the defense contractor Lockheed Martin.
- Paul Hofer of Orlando, California has given over $17,000 to the campaigns of Boebert, Gaetz, Greene, and Vance. A rancher, he is vice president of the Inland Empire Regional Composting Authority in Southern California.
- Thomas Pawlacyk of Larsen, Wisconsin donated more than $20,000 to Biggs, Boebert, Brooks, Cawthorn, Greene, Johnson, and Vance (and Eileen Pawlacyk added $750 for the Johnson campaign). Pawlacyk owns the trucking company N&M Transfer, which operates in six midwestern states.
- Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield of St. Louis, Missouri gave more than $23,000 to the campaigns of Boebert and Cawthorn. An investor and longtime GOP megadonor, Rex cofounded the Show-Me Institute, a libertarian think tank and member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the related State Policy Network (SPN).
- C. Boyden Gray of St. Louis, Missouri gave over $23,000 to the campaigns of Boebert, Brooks, Cawthorn, Johnson, and Vance. A wealthy lawyer and corporate lobbyist whose family controlled the RJ Reynolds Tobacco company, Gray is closely connected to the Koch family’s political and education initiatives, having chaired the predecessor to Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and taught at the Koch-funded Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University. He also worked for both the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations.
Requests for comment emailed to the Uihleins, John Childs, Hofer, Thomas Pawlacyk, the Sinquefields, and Gray were not returned. CMD was unable to identify contact information for the Hillmans, Toppers, and Zuluetas.
The ‘Great Replacement’
Like Rogers, Gaetz has espoused the white nationalist rhetoric promulgated by Carlson, tweeting that he agrees with the talk show host’s “Great Replacement” theory.
.@TuckerCarlson is CORRECT about Replacement Theory as he explains what is happening to America.
The ADL is a racist organization. https://t.co/32Vu60HrJK
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) September 25, 2021
Vance has claimed that the “Great Replacement” is underway several times, at an April town hall, in a campaign ad, and again on Twitter, when he wrote that “there is an attempted cultural genocide going on…. The left wants [to] replace America.”
“So you’re talking about a shift in the democratic makeup of this country that would mean we never win, meaning Republicans would never win a national election in this country ever again,” Vance said in Portsmouth, Ohio.
Johnson referenced the “Great Replacement” in an April 2021 appearance on Fox Business, wondering if the Biden administration is trying to use immigration to “remake the demographics of America” so that “they stay in power forever.”
Boebert said in a remote committee meeting, “They want to grant amnesty and a path to… citizenship to eight million illegal aliens. Yes, there is definitely a replacement theory that’s going on right now.”
For years, Greene has believed in the “Great Replacement.” In 2018, she shared a video on Facebook that explicitly laid out the theory, claiming that immigrants were “breeding us out of existence.” With Gosar, she attempted to start an “America First Caucus” in Congress, distributing materials that praised Anglo-Saxon traditions and warned that mass immigration threatens “the long-term existential future of America.”
Still More Thanks to Super PACs
In addition to their direct contributions to candidates, these ultra-wealthy, far-right donors have invested even more in super PACs, which can legally accept unlimited donations from individuals and corporations.
Club for Growth Action, the super PAC affiliated with the right-wing political group Club for Growth, has attracted almost $18 million from Richard Uihlein. So far the super PAC has spent $5.2 million on Vance’s Senate campaign in Ohio and $1.8 million supporting Brooks’ bid in Alabama.
In addition, it spent $2.2 million backing unsuccessful Senate candidate Kathy Barnette, an extremist who organized buses to attend the Jan. 6 rally before the Capitol insurrection and was seen marching to the Capitol near the Proud Boys. Tatnall Hillman, Hofer, and Thomas Pawlacyk donated directly to the Barnette campaign.
John Childs has donated $100,000 to Club for Growth Action and $25,000 to Right Women PAC, a super PAC that made an independent expenditure of $13,000 backing Greene, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Boyden Gray gave $100,000 to Club for Growth Action.
Lewis Topper has provided most of the revenue—$245,000—for the American Liberty Fund, a super PAC that is helping Loomer in her second attempt to represent Florida in the U.S. House of Representatives. In the 2020 cycle, the PAC spent over $500,000 backing Loomer, as well as $225,000 for Trump and $53,000 for Boebert.
Tatnall Hillman has almost single-handedly funded the Drain the DC Swamp PAC, a super PAC that has made independent expenditures supporting Boebert ($6,666), Brooks ($37,000), Cawthorn ($29,000), Greene ($6,666), and many other right-wing candidates. In this cycle he has already contributed nearly $2 million to the PAC, which backed Trump, Gaetz, and Greene in 2020.
Peter Thiel, the billionaire tech mogul who recently left the board of Meta to dedicate himself to backing Trump and Trump-endorsed candidates, poured $15 million into Protect Ohio Values, a super PAC supporting Vance. The candidate is a cofounder of the venture capital firm Narya Capital, in which Thiel invested. Vance’s campaign outsourced its advertising and data operation to the super PAC, got Trump’s endorsement, and very late in the game, pulled off a victory in the Republican primary.
Robert Mercer, a hedge fund manager and Trump backer, and his daughter, Rebekah, contributed $100,000 and $50,000, respectively, to the Protect Ohio Values PAC. (Rebekah also gave $5,800 directly to the Vance campaign and another $10,800 to Ohioans for JD, a joint fundraising committee with Working for Ohio, which received $5,000 from her.)
Additional GOP megadonors have bankrolled super PACs, including Wisconsin roofing supply billionaire Dianne Hendricks, who gave $2 million to Club for Growth Action, and Arkansas poultry magnate Ronald Cameron, who gave $500,000 to the same PAC.