December 19, 2022
2022 was the year that crypto discovered politics. Beginning in January, three separate PACs were set up to funnel the largess of crypto companies into the races of their favored candidates.
First on the scene was the GMI PAC, launched in late January. According to their website, GMI PAC supports candidates who work to give US-based innovators the opportunity to build next-generation technologies and services here in America rather than doing that valuable work overseas. They did not support or oppose any candidates directly; rather, they funneled money to two other PACs: the liberal PAC Web3 Forward received 4.75 million dollars, and the conservative Crypto Innovation PAC received 2.8 million dollars.
On the heels of GMI PAC came Protect Our Future. Its website explains, “Protect Our Future is an organization designed to help elect candidates who will be champions for pandemic prevention – candidates who, when elected, will have their eyes on the future.” They spent 24.25 million dollars on democratic campaigns.
The American Dream Federal Action PAC was founded in April. Its website says, We’re an organization dedicated to electing forward-looking candidates — those who want to protect America’s long term economic and national security by advancing smart policy decisions now. As an organization, we will be guided by a series of key principles that will govern the work we do and the candidates we support. It spent 12.65 million dollars on Republican races, frequently in contested primaries.
Behind all of these PACs stands the figure of Sam Bankman-Fried with his now-bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange and hedge fund FTX Trading Ltd. FTX was the largest single contributor—sometimes the only contributor—to each PAC, funneling more than 37 million dollars into campaigns across the country. Of particular interest is the newest PAC, American Dream Federal Action, whose entire contribution list consists of 15 million dollars received from FTX over a three-month period.
American Dream Federal Action’s logo bears a remarkable resemblance to Donald Trump’s.
Their website features the Statue of Liberty, and a photograph of a flag-draped shed in a green field. Their list of goals includes these four vague principles:
- We believe in leveraging America’s technological edge and best scientific minds to forecast future national challenges and craft public policy solutions to address those challenges now.
- We believe that public policy solutions should have a positive impact on people’s lives and play a vital role in protecting Americans’ freedoms, biosecurity and system of free enterprise.
- We focus on the problems of the future which, if done correctly, should mitigate the problems of the present.
- We support solutions that will protect the long-term economic prosperity and national security of the American people.
Sources as diverse as the Washington Post and HeadlineUSA have reported that GOP leadership, specifically Rep. Kevin McCarthy, used these and other PACs to defeat MAGA candidates in contested primaries, thus ensuring the success of his bid to be elected Speaker of the House. Targeted politicians include Madison Cawthorn in North Carolina, Carl Paladino in New York, Anthony Sabatini and Joe Kent in Florida, and Christian Collins in Texas.
Even Idaho was not immune from these efforts. OpenSecrets reports that District 2 Rep. Mike Simpson received $704,746 from American Dream Federal Action during his primary campaign against constitutional conservative Bryan Smith. This is confirmed by a report from the American Accountability Foundation, which also suggested that the PAC received input from Republican leadership when choosing whom to support.
AFPA’s donation came after a poll showed Bryan Smith gaining on incumbent Mike Simpson in the lead-up to the primary election. The PAC funded pro-Simpson ads across eastern Idaho in the week before the primary, which Smith believes were partly responsible for his defeat. He places the blame squarely on McCarthy. “McCarthy knew that [Simpson] would carry his water, and that I’d represent my constituents,” Smith said. “I defeat a guy like [Simpson] in the primary, and [McCarthy] figures it’s one less vote he’d get for speaker, so of course he’s coming after me.”