Washington GOP Senate nominee bankrolled by right-wing megadonors
Tiffany Smiley’s funders include several top backers of former President Donald Trump.
Tiffany Smiley, the Republican nominee for the Washington state U.S. Senate seat held by incumbent Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, is pointing to a large fundraising haul as proof of her “commanding position” in the race. An American Independent Foundation review of Smiley’s contributors found that several of her top donors were also major funders of other Republican and right-wing campaigns, including that of former President Donald Trump.
The contributors include Scott Wagner and Peter Zieve, two donors with a history of bigotry.
“As a small town Washington farm girl, I never dreamed that one day I would be running to represent the amazing voters of Washington State,” Smiley said in an Oct. 7 press release announcing her latest campaign fundraising totals. “I am blown away and humbled by the groundswell of support we have received, and I am so thankful to my team and our grassroots volunteers for all the hard work they have poured into this campaign.”
To date, Smiley has reported receiving contributions totaling $5,800, the legal maximum donation allowed, from investor Walter Buckley Jr.; Ronald Cameron, the chairman of the poultry producer Mountaire Farms; former Amway CEO Richard DeVos Jr.; Marvel Entertainment Chair Isaac Perlmutter; and Richard Uihlein, a founder and owner and the CEO of the shipping supplies company Uline.
Each of the donors contributed at least $400,000 during the 2020 campaign cycle to America First Action, a pro-Trump super PAC. They contributed nearly $15 million combined to Trump’s failed reelection effort.
Smiley received at least $2,900 from Kenneth Griffin, a billionaire serving as the CEO of the hedge fund firm Citadel. CNBC reported that Griffin has spent more than $100 million on donations to Republicans in the 2022 midterm elections, making him one of the biggest political contributors in the country.
Frank VanderSloot, CEO of the wellness supply company Melaleuca, has also contributed $2,900. The national finance co-chair for the unsuccessful 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) has been a major donor to GOP super PACs.
Smiley has also accepted donations from people with documented histories of bigotry. Her campaign took $5,800 from Scott Wagner, a former Republican Pennsylvania state senator, who during his unsuccessful 2018 gubernatorial campaign came under criticism for antisemitic comments after he was recorded calling the philanthropist and progressive donor George Soros a “Hungarian Jew” with a “hatred for America,” adding: “I have a lot of friends that are Jewish friends, and I, I, I have a friend that, uh, that his father and uncle and broth — there were three brothers that were in a Jewish concentration camp.”
Peter Zieve, who donated $4,900 to Smiley, is a Trump donor with a long history of anti-Muslim behavior. Zieve and the aerospace parts company he founded and runs, Electroimpact, reached a settlement in March 2017 with the Washington state attorney general’s office after they were investigated over claims that, according to the office, they “refused to hire Muslim applicants, engaged in religious and/or national origin harassment, discriminated against employees based on marital status, and retaliated against employees who opposed such unfair practices.”
The Seattle Times reported in 2017 on the culture at Electroimpact, with Zieve sending emails to his employees that contained anti-Muslim comments. Echoing the so-called “great replacement theory” that there is a global conspiracy to replace white people with nonwhite people, Zieve wrote to his employees of people who use sterilization to prevent conception: “When they choose not to repopulate and allow our wonderful country to be backfilled with rubbish from the desperate and criminal populations of the Third World I find that to be disgusting and I find those persons to make those decisions to be repulsive I don’t like them around me.”
In another message, he wrote: “I note that 381,000 terrorist savages have gotten into Europe this year, and if we don’t make more babies the light will go out on civilization.”
A spokesperson for Smiley’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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