Trump in liberal San Francisco for high-dollar tech fundraiser

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will attend a fundraiser hosted by two tech venture capitalists in San Francisco on Thursday, a high-dollar event expected to draw Silicon Valley investors turned off by the Biden administration’s policies.

Venture capitalists David Sacks and Chamath Palihapitiya, as well as Sacks’ wife Jacqueline, will host the reception and dinner with Trump, according to an invitation seen by Reuters.

The gathering – where top tickets are $500,000 per couple – is sold out, a source with knowledge of the fundraiser told Reuters. It could raise between $10 million and $15 million, according to another source.

While San Francisco is heavily liberal – Democrat Joe Biden won 85% of the city’s vote in the 2020 election against then-president Trump – a growing number of high-profile local venture capitalists have thrown their support behind Trump ahead of his November rematch against Biden.

Trevor Traina, a San Francisco-based tech executive and former Trump ambassador to Austria, said business regulations implemented during Biden’s presidency had alienated some people in the tech industry.

Biden last week vetoed what he described as a Republican-led resolution that would “inappropriately constrain the SEC’s ability to set forth appropriate guardrails and address future issues” relating to cryptocurrency assets.

“That might have been just the final domino,” Traina said of why some tech executives were now backing Trump.

The crypto industry is increasingly trying to influence U.S. politicians as it faces heightened scrutiny from regulators, especially since bankruptcies at major crypto firms in 2022 spooked investors, exposed fraud and misconduct, and left millions of investors out of pocket.

Sacks and Palihapitiya have talked publicly about their investments in crypto, especially in bitcoin. A representative for Sacks declined to comment. Palihapitiya did not respond to requests for comment.

Jacob Helberg, an adviser to data analytics provider Palantir and a Democrat until about 2021, said he recently donated around $1 million to Trump’s campaign.

“In 2016, the number of people from Silicon Valley I knew who supported Trump was a sample of one, which was Peter,” Helberg said, referring to Palantir co-founder and conservative venture capitalist Peter Thiel.

“Today I count them in the dozens, if not more than that. Over the course of the past six months, we’ve started to see the dam break,” he said.

Helberg, who also helps raise money for Trump, cited factors including the economy, border security, and the Israel-Hamas conflict for the shifts in support, as well as what he called excessive regulation and perceptions of a politicized judiciary following Trump’s conviction in a New York hush money case.

Trump’s campaign raked in record amounts after the guilty verdict last week, and the San Francisco event will add to his coffers.

Undeterred by his conviction, major Republican donors have rallied behind Trump, pledging millions of dollars to support the first convicted felon running for U.S. president.

Billionaire Elon Musk, a friend of Sacks, responded on Wednesday to a post about the fundraiser on his social media platform X, writing “the SF Bay Area is shifting towards Trump.”

It was not immediately clear whether Musk, who has increasingly embraced right-wing politics and propagated conspiracy theories on X, would attend Thursday’s event, although one donor told Reuters he had been informed by the host that Musk would be there. Musk did not respond to a request for comment.

Senator J.D. Vance, a potential running mate for Trump who previously lived in San Francisco and worked in venture capital, will attend the event, according to a source familiar with his plans. Vance helped organize the fundraiser and was a point of contact between Sacks and the Trump campaign, according to another source familiar with the discussions.

San Francisco remains a fertile fundraising ground for Democrats. Vice President Kamala Harris was in the city for her own fundraiser on Wednesday, held at a music venue decorated with rainbow flags and other Pride Month themed decor.

“Everything is at stake in this election,” said Harris, who spoke about abortion rights and support for gay marriage but did not mention Trump by name.

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