One of the larger questions looming over Rand Paul’s seemingly inevitable presidential campaign is how he will raise big money. The Kentucky senator has a large grassroots following, but not necessarily the sort of e-mail list that Ted Cruz was able to amass during the 2013 government shutdown and certainly not the sort of entree into the traditional Republican donor base that has fueled past presidential campaigns.
Some, including those in his own camp, have suggested that the young billionaires of Silicon Valley would be a key source of funding for Paul’s campaign: chief among them, Palantir Technologies co-founder and angel investor Joe Lonsdale. Lonsdale was name-checked in an April 2014 New York Times piece as a member of Paul’s nascent finance team, one of the libertarian billionaires Paul had successfully cultivated during his rapid ascent in the Senate.
Now comes a New York Times Magazine piece detailing Lonsdale’s relationship with a Stanford undergraduate, which took place while he was serving as a mentor to the undergraduate’s course in Technology Entrepreneurship. It’s a bizarre story and doesn’t in and of itself say much about Paul’s presidential prospects, but it comes on the heels of a couple of weeks of missteps and bad news for the senator: a vaccine gaffe, an unfortunate CNBC interview, and a call from Weekly Standard senior editor Andrew Ferguson for him to drop out of the presidential running entirely. On the whole, not good for Team Paul.