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Wisconsin Democrats Return Money From Tech Billionaire Under Fire for Uyghur Comments

Chamath Palihapitiya has donated hundreds of thousands to Democrats

Chamath Palihapitiya / Getty Images
• January 19, 2022 4:20 pm

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Democrats in Wisconsin became the first to return political contributions from liberal billionaire megadonor Chamath Palihapitiya after he drew ire for saying he doesn't care about China's Uyghur genocide, putting pressure on others in the Democratic Party to do the same.

The Wisconsin Democratic Party on Wednesday said it was donating the $10,000 Palihapitiya contributed last year to a charity supporting the persecuted Uyghur population. Wisconsin Democrat Alex Lasry, himself the son of a billionaire Democratic donor, said his Senate campaign would also return the $2,900 Palihapitiya contributed this year, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

In recent years, Palihapitiya—who considered running for governor of California as a Democrat—has become a prolific Democratic donor. He contributed $250,000 to President Joe Biden's victory fund, which was routed to state Democratic parties around the country. He also recently gave thousands of dollars to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and donated $750,000 to Schumer's super PAC in the 2020 cycle.

Neither Biden nor Schumer have responded to requests for comment about plans to refund the donations.

The White House told the Free Beacon it rejected Palihapitiya's remarks about China's ongoing genocide of its Uyghur population. The Golden State Warriors, an NBA team he partially owns, also distanced itself from Palihapitiya, saying he has no role in day-to-day operations and does not speak for the franchise.

Outside of Wisconsin, however, not a single recipient of Palihapitiya's contributions have taken action to distance themselves from the tech billionaire.

Other Democratic recipients of Palihapitiya's money in recent years include the Democratic National Committee, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic Parties of New York, West Virginia, Alabama, North Carolina, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Virginia, Florida, Nebraska, Kansas, Vermont, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Arizona, Maryland, Mississippi, Delaware, New Jersey, Georgia, Nevada, Michigan, and New Hampshire.

Published under: Democratic Donors, Uyghur