Crypto PACs backed by Scaramucci, Bankman-Fried plan ads

Samuel Bankman-Fried, founder and CEO of FTX, testifies during a Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee hearing on “Examining Digital Assets: Risks, Regulation and Innovation,” on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on March 9. February 2022.

Saul Loeb | AFP | fake images

A network of political action committees backed by crypto industry leaders is planning a last-minute ad campaign in support of congressional candidates, according to one of the groups’ top strategists.

Web3 Forward and Crypto Innovation, two super PACs funded by crypto executives, are expected to spend at least six figures on a publicity blitz starting in two weeks, the strategist explained. This person refused to be named in order to speak freely about the private planning.

The groups plan to invest in TV ads supporting candidates on both sides of the aisle just days before midterm election day on Nov. 8, this person said. The PACs aim to initially broadcast their aid in California, Oregon, Colorado and Texas, but are still evaluating which candidates they will support.

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During the primary season, Web3 Forward endorsed Democrats running for Congress, while Crypto Innovation supported Republicans, according to Federal Election Commission records. None of the PACs has bought campaign ads since September, when the primary elections were drawing to a close.

Of the 11 House and Senate races Web3 Forward spent money on, eight of the group’s preferred candidates won, according to data from the nonpartisan organization OpenSecrets. Congressional hopefuls included Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman, whom the PAC spent $212,000 in support of.

Crypto Innovation invested in seven races and five of their preferred candidates prevailed. They included Ted Budd, the Republican candidate for the North Carolina Senate endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

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Crypto PAC spending will add to a flurry of cash in what is expected to be the most expensive midterms in history. $6.4 billion has already been spent on TV, radio and digital ads.

Democrats control the House and Senate, but only by slim margins. The Senate is split 50-50 by party, and Democrats have to rely on Vice President Kamala Harris for tie-breaking votes.

A handful of Senate elections, including those in Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Arizona, will determine which party controls the Senate. Meanwhile, dozens of races across the country will determine whether Democrats can hold on to their eight-seat majority in the House.

Web3 Forward and Crypto Innovation are primarily funded by GMI PAC, another super PAC that has received massive donations from cryptocurrency leaders. Contributions include $2 million in January from FTX CEO Samuel Bankman-Fried.

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The group also received $1 million each in May from Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, two managing partners at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, records show. The company’s portfolio includes cryptocurrency companies.

Former Trump White House communications director and SkyBridge Capital founder Anthony Scaramucci donated $100,000 to Crypto Innovation in March, according to an FEC filing.

The founding board of directors of GMI PAC includes CMS Holdings co-founder Dan Matuszewski, Framework Ventures co-founder Vance Spencer, and FTX Digital Markets CEO Ryan Salame, according to cryptocurrency news outlet The Block.

Web3 Forward and Crypto Innovation did not respond to requests for comment before publication.

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