The Mystery Mega-Donor Behind Freitas’ $500K Campaign Donation

It was the largest donation in the history of the Virginia House of Delegates — half-a-million dollars from a mystery mega-donor deposited into Culpeper Republican Delegate Nick Freitas’ war chest.

Who was the secret money-bags donor?

In March 2018, Politico called billionaire Richard Uihlein “the biggest Republican mega-donor you’ve never heard of,” and profiled the man who had been dumping millions into Libertarian campaigns:

… [Uihlein has emerged] as one of the most influential, but still little-known, political donors in the country. His early six- and seven-figure contributions to emerging Republican candidates, and penchant for disruptive politics, have been crucial to building a raft of anti-establishment Republicans seeking to emulate Donald Trump’s formula for success during this year’s midterm elections. [emphasis added] …

… In addition to donating to tea party groups and the Club for Growth, which Uihlein has supported in the past, he’s given several million dollars to super PACs backing specific candidates in Senate races. …

… his stable of candidates during [2017-18] consisted mostly of conservative bomb-throwers like [Illinois gubernatorial candidate Jeanne] Ives, anti-establishment state Sen. Chris McDaniel in Mississippi and Roy Moore in Alabama.

The investigative piece concluded by re-emphasizing the disruption of the Republican Party by candidates who have been backed by Uihlein:

Skeptics of Uihlein and [Illinois Policy Institute’s] approach worry they’ve left the Republican Party fractured — and they wish he’d taken a less combative approach. And they look at Ives’ inflammatory campaign as a prime exhibit.

“If [Uihlein] wants to pull the party to the right, I’m all for that. I want people to participate. I want more Republicans,” said Pat Brady, former chairman of the Illinois Republican Party. “He could support candidates who are conservative that could probably win if they weren’t the fringe right, homophobic bomb-throwers that these people had convinced him early on to support.” [emphasis added]

So Virginia Republican politics may be about to get rockier because now Uihlein has waded into the Commonwealth by way of the 30th District House seat just as Freitas is being forced to mount a write-in campaign after missing the filing deadline. So in November the incumbent’s name will not appear on the ballot.

If Freitas wins re-election, then what? Freitas — who campaigned against fellow Republican House member Christopher Peace in the dumpster fire that took place in the 97th House District earlier this year (see here, here, here, here, here, and here), and whose wife at the same time was running a campaign she lost primarying Valley State Senator Emmett Hanger with a Libertarian mega-donor of her own … a wealthy California Libertarian named Chris Rufer who dropped $50,000 into her campaign — knows how to rock the Republican boat. But for a weary party that has seen in-fighting for the past decade and that may be ready for less rocking and more stability, his rabble-rousing timing could be off. That, however, remains to be seen in the months ahead as it becomes clear what higher office Freitas is eyeing.

During the just-finished fundraising period, in addition to the half million dollars from Uihlein, Freitas’ fundraising brought in an additional $13,040.

For now the Freitas campaign is gearing up to educate voters to write in the incumbent’s name on November 5. In the dominant red district, that should be an easy task.


Bearing Drift: The Freitas Gambit by Matt Hall

The Star Exponent: Illinois billionaire donates $500K to Freitas campaign; Spanberger endorses Ridgeway by Allison Brophy Champion

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