Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney’s primary challenger landed former President Donald Trump’s endorsement before she even officially launched her campaign. Now, she’s cashing big checks from Trump’s biggest donors — including tech billionaire Peter Thiel.

Thiel has contributed the maximum-allowed, $5,800 check to Harriet Hageman, the Trump-endorsed attorney running against Cheney in next year’s Republican primary. The former president has made Cheney, an outspoken critic who voted for his impeachment in January, his top target in the 2022 election, and now big-money benefactors like Thiel are piling into the race.

The list of major Trump donors included on Hageman’s third-quarter fundraising report, which is set to be publicly released Friday, also includes Wyoming transportation executive Timothy Mellon, who was the single biggest giver to the principal pro-Trump super PAC, America First Action, during the 2020 election. Dallas real estate executive James Mabrey, Apple associate general counsel Douglas Vetter and Florida medical company executive Peter Lamelas also gave to Hageman. Other big names include Lynette Friess, the widow of Republican mega-donor and prominent Trump backer Foster Friess.

The high-profile primary promises to be an expensive affair. Hageman, who entered the race in September, raised around $300,000 during the first three weeks of her campaign, according to a person familiar with the totals. Cheney has capitalized on her deep connections in the Republican donor world to rake in money for her toughest race yet, already bringing in more than $5 million this year, her campaign announced Tuesday.

While Cheney’s totals and hefty lead — she raised $1.7 million in the third quarter alone — show that she still has powerful connections in a fast-changing Republican Party, the list of prominent Trump donors throwing in with Hageman highlights his dominant influence in the GOP. And it demonstrates Trump and his allies are mobilizing together to punish the handful of Republicans who voted to impeach him after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Thiel, one of the most sought-after GOP donors, has emerged as a financial force behind the effort to unseat Trump critics.

He has also contributed to army veteran Joe Kent, a challenger to Rep.

Jaime Herrera Beutler
(R-Wash.), who, like Cheney, voted for Trump’s impeachment in January. Thiel, a PayPal co-founder and early Facebook investor, met with Trump for over an hour at his Bedminster golf club last month, according to two people familiar with the sit-down. The meeting was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has her own high-profile financial help: Former President George W. Bush is headlining a fundraiser for her in Texas later this month. The event will also feature other big political names from the Bush administration, including political strategist Karl Rove.

Trump spent months searching for a challenger to take on Cheney, ultimately leading him to Hageman after a lengthy interview process with other congressional hopefuls. She has inherited the former president’s political apparatus: Two top officials on Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign, Nick Trainer and Tim Murtaugh, are playing leading roles steering her campaign. Two other Republican strategists involved in Trump’s orbit, Andy Surabian and James Blair, are running a pro-Hageman super PAC.

That outfit, Wyoming Values PAC, doesn’t have to disclose its fundraising activity until January. But it is expected to become an outlet for major Hageman to funnel sizeable checks. Unlike Hageman’s campaign, the super PAC does not have any contribution limits. And many of her early campaign backers have shown a willingness to back the Trump cause with six- or seven-figure donations in the past.

While Cheney has won major financial support for her reelection run, her opposition to Trump has alienated some of her past supporters. Maggie Scarlett, a former Cheney campaign leader whom the congresswoman praised in a 2018 House floor speech, has donated to Hageman. Scarlett and her husband, financial executive Dick Scarlett, were donors to Trump’s 2020 reelection effort.

North Carolina investor Helen Laughery, another past Cheney donor, also contributed to Hageman. Laughery gave more than $70,000 to support Trump’s 2020 campaign.

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