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Out-of-state donors are bankrolling Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin's anti-abortion crusade

Youngkin is under fire for taking $2 million from a top investor in TikTok.

By Josh Israel - October 05, 2023
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Virginia Gov. Youngkin delivers his State of the Commonwealth address to a joint session of the Virginia legislature in the House chamber in Richmond, Va., on Jan. 11, 2023.
FILE - Virginia Gov. Youngkin delivers his State of the Commonwealth address to a joint session of the Virginia legislature in the House chamber in Richmond, Va., on Jan. 11, 2023. Virginia Senate Democrats defeated several bills Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, that would have restricted abortion access in the state, including a proposed 15-week ban with exceptions that was a priority for Youngkin. (AP Photo/John C. Clark, File)

Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin is collecting millions of dollars from rich out-of-state donors as he works to win full GOP control of the General Assembly this November. Two million dollars came from a major investor in the parent company of TikTok, a social media app Youngkin banned as a threat to U.S. national security.

Youngkin’s Republican allies currently hold a narrow majority in the Virginia House of Delegates, and they have used their majority to advance Youngkin’s right-wing agenda. Democrats hold a slim majority in the Virginia Senate, which allows them to block Youngkin’s extreme proposals. They’ve stopped rollbacks of reproductive rights, loosening of gun safety laws, and tax cuts for the wealthiest Virginians.

Voting has already begun for all 100 seats in the House and all 40 seats in the Senate. The election ends on Nov. 7.

Youngkin and his Spirit of Virginia PAC are spending heavily to try to win Republican control of both chambers. If Republicans win control of the Legislature, Youngkin has indicated he will attempt to pass an unpopular 12-week abortion ban.

To make a Republican takeover a reality, Youngkin has been relying on billionaire Republican megadonors who do not live in Virginia. CBS News reported on Tuesday that in just 48 hours, he had raised $4.4 million in PAC funds.

A million dollars of that came from Thomas Peterffy, a business executive from Palm Beach, Florida, bringing his total donations to Spirit of Virginia to $3 million for the year.

Another $2,000,000 came from Jeff Yass, the richest person in Pennsylvania, according to a 2022 report published by the website PennLive.

A Spirit of Virginia spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.

Yass is co-founder of Susquehanna International Group, which has owned about a 15% stake in TikTok parent company ByteDance since 2012, according to the Wall Street Journal. The outlet estimated that Yass personally owns about half of that stake, accounting for about $21 billion of his $28 billion net worth.

Because ByteDance is mostly Chinese-owned, Youngkin announced in December 2022 that he would ban the use of TikTok on all state devices and networks.

“TikTok and WeChat data are a channel to the Chinese Communist Party, and their continued presence represents a threat to national security, the intelligence community, and the personal privacy of every single American,” Youngkin said. “We are taking this step today to secure state government devices and wireless networks from the threat of infiltration and ensure that we safeguard the data and cybersecurity of state government.”

Democratic legislative leaders accused Youngkin of hypocrisy in a press release issued Wednesday.

“This is the same party that, not even a week ago, tried to hold the government hostage for their own ambitions. So, am I supposed to be surprised at this blatant hypocrisy?” said House Democratic Leader Don Scott. “The Governor, and his party, seem to have one set of standards when it comes to the livelihood of Virginians and another when it comes to himself. He drove away hundreds of thousands of dollars from Ford to create jobs in the Danville area because of MAGA conspiracy theories, but will accept millions of dollars to his own campaign.”

Youngkin refused in December 2022 to support building a Ford Motor Co. electric battery facility in Virginia, claiming China would control the technology.

“The future of the commonwealth, reproductive healthcare in the south, and fundamental freedoms of all Virginians depend on it,” said Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee communications director Abhi Rahman in a press release. “We are all hands on deck to show Youngkin and his billionaires that they cannot buy an abortion ban in Virginia.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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