Hillbilly Elegy author JD Vance quits AppHarvest board after voting law tweets

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Jessica Glenza and agencies
·2 min read
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<span>Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The author of Appalachian memoir Hillbilly Elegy, author JD Vance, has resigned from the board of a company that uses green technology to mass-produce food in the region, days after sending some controversial tweets.

Vance was an early investor in AppHarvest, a mega-greenhouse company that produced its first tomatoes this year at a 300-employee facility in Morehead, Kentucky, the Herald-Leader reported.

Related: Companies talk the talk on Georgia voting rights but how will they act?

An AppHarvest spokesman, Travis Parman, said “it would not be appropriate for me to discuss his motivation” for leaving the board.

But Vance is also being floated in Ohio as a Republican candidate for the US Senate, and he has drawn criticism in recent days for his opposition to corporate leaders who have stood up against anti-voting rights legislation brought by GOP legislators in several states.

Last weekend, more than 100 CEOs joined a call to discuss how to respond to recent proposals in state legislatures to restrict voting rights, most notably in Georgia. Vance said in a recent tweet states should “raise their taxes and do whatever else is necessary to fight these goons”.

One recent proposal from the CEOs was to pull back donations for politicians who support such legislation. Republicans have been the overwhelming backers of anti-voting rights legislation and would disproportionately benefit from them. GOP legislators have often cited falsehoods about election fraud pushed by former president Donald Trump as justification for the new restrictions.

Vance’s most monied donors are well-known Trump supporters. A super Pac supporting Vance’s US Senate bid received a $10m donation from Peter Thiel, his former employer and, at one time, an enthusiastic Trump supporter. The donation is Thiel’s largest ever political gambit.

Vance has also received donations from the hedge fund magnate Robert Mercer. The billionaire Trump supporter is perhaps best known for backing uber-conservative Breitbart News and Cambridge Analytica, a firm embroiled in a controversial data-mining operation to manipulate voter sentiment.

Vance also praised the Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Twitter, calling him “the only powerful figure who consistently challenges elite dogma on both cultural and economic questions”.

Carlson has been recently embroiled in a battle with the Anti-Defamation League, which accused Carlson of using his show to mount, “an impassioned defense of the white supremacist ‘great replacement theory’”. After the letter from the ADL, Carlson again argued on his show that Democrats were, “importing a brand new electorate” through immigration.