Venture capitalist Blake Masters—the front-runner in Arizona’s Republican primary for the United States Senate—was branded "a snake oil salesman" by none other than the best man at his own wedding.
Masters and his former friend Collin Wedel—now a partner at a corporate law firm in California—fell out last year after Masters posted a tweet in which he referred to COVID-19 vaccine mandates as "evil."
The details were part of a lengthy profile of Masters published by Mother Jones.
It also offers context for Masters' "America First" views that earned him the support of Republicans, White nationalists, White supremacists and other MAGA candidates.
After Wedel learned of the tweet, he issued the following rebuke from his private Twitter account:
"Shame on you. I’m so utterly disappointed in what you’ve done with yourself."
"People will get sick, and die, because of your reckless rhetoric."
"As someone who loves and used to respect you: What happened to you?”
But Wedel soon found himself targeted by thousands of Masters' followers after Masters posted a screenshot of his tweet and declared “The most deadly virus we face is progressivism" and it "rots both brains and nations."
Masters went further, saying "freedom is worth losing friends over."
And just like that, the damage was done. Wedel told Mother Jones he "received harassing calls at work and home, and had to call the police after threatening materials were placed in his mailbox."
Wedel added he doesn't "know what’s worse, if [Masters] actually is aware that he’s selling snake oil to people, or if he truly believes” what he’s saying.
Wedel's statements went viral and others offered their own criticisms of Masters after reading the Mother Jones profile.
Masters rose to prominence through his association with German-American billionaire Peter Thiel, a conservative libertarian who has made substantial donations to American right-wing figures and causes.
Masters—who says he would not have met Thiel had Wedel not told him about a class Thiel was teaching at Stanford Law School—eventually worked for Thiel becoming Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Thiel Capital hedge fund and president of the Thiel Foundation.
Later, Masters would be chosen by Thiel to work on the transition team for former Republican President Donald Trump. Trump endorsed Masters in a statement last month calling him "a great modern-day thinker" and "one of the most successful businessmen and investors in the Country."
Masters has generated controversy on the campaign trail for supporting baseless conspiracy theories, particularly the racist and antisemitic "Great Replacement" theory embraced by White nationalists that states White European populations and their descendants are being deliberately demographically and culturally replaced with non-European peoples.