July 29, 2022
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The Georgia Democratic Primary is a contest between two current House Members – Reps. Lucy McBath and Carolyn Bourdeaux have remained an even matchup, with one key difference: cryptocurrency backing to a tune of $2million.
Both reps have spent considerable time and effort racking up endorsements and aggressively fundraising. McBath started as a gun control advocate more than ten years ago after her teenage son got fatally shot.
On the other hand, Bourdeaux is running in a district that comprises 60% of constituents from her old district. The recent district’s rezoning has led to these two sitting colleagues running against each other in this year’s primaries.
While both politicians are seasoned and well-versed in local politics, one factor separates the two – campaign funding. McBath has benefited from the backing of a 30-year-old mogul who helped co-found a cryptocurrency exchange platform.
The platform enables crypto investors to exchange their digital currencies easily. Sam Bankman-Fried, the FTX CEO and Co-Founder, has launched a new super PAC known as Protect Our Future. The super PAC has spent more than $2million in campaign ads praising Lucy McBath.
Anyone who understands how campaign contributions work will tell you that this is a huge sum of money for a campaign super PAC to spend on a race between two sitting Democratic reps.
The crypto-linked independent expenditure only political committee has indicated that it intends to endorse close to a dozen Democratic candidates and incumbents in the coming days. While making its intentions known, the super PAC has stated that it will spend an extra $10 million in the upcoming Democratic primaries.
The new spending report means that the super PAC will have doubled its planned spending to over $20 million for the primaries. Cryptocurrency has remained a pretty new and minimally regulated digital asset.
However, its popularity has soared, causing some lawmakers to consider limiting and regulating the industry. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat-Mass, recently likened purchasing cryptos to “buying air.” There are indications that cryptos could face increased scrutiny in the future.
Late last month, Bourdeaux started lashing out at all the crypto money that has continued to pour into her congressional seat race and other races all over the country. Crypto money has featured heavily in primary races in Texas, Kentucky, Oregon, Ohio, and now Georgia.
And this comes in the wake of reports that Washington intends to ramp up scrutiny of the digital currency industry. Washington has already started drafting regulations that will assist in keeping the $3 trillion crypto verse under control.
“You just can’t help but think, yeah, they’re weighing attempting to find favor with congressional members and to influence the guidelines that are being drafted right now,” Bourdeaux said in an interview.
She went on to add, “And these protocols are things ensuring that the ultra-rich Russian businessmen won’t find a way to use crypto to hide their illicit wealth.”
Bourdeaux is on record stating that it’s a weird and surreal experience having an executive of a Bahamas-based digital assets exchange committing millions to try to influence the result of a primary race. She fails to mention that the businessman in question is an American.
By virtue of his American citizenship, campaign financing laws allow him to spend money in U.S elections regardless of where he has his company headquarters. With her comments, Bourdeaux is doing much more than singling out her opponent, who she will face in a debate this Sunday.
She is using her position on crypto campaign financing to target her other Democratic colleagues, such as Rep. Ritchie Torres, Democrat, New York. Rep Ritchie is among the other Democratic incumbents who have received backing from Protect Our Future.
While commenting on Protect Our Future and the other independent expenditure only political committees backed by crypto assets launched earlier this year, Bourdeaux noted,
“McBath in my race — they back her, as they have done with Torres. After receiving their backing, you can start seeing Torres trying to advocate for these crypto firms.”
She has in recent times described herself as a crypto skeptic and has gone as far as making comments deemed critical of the digital currency industry. McBath declined to comment on reports linking her to crypto-financing when approached by reporters.
Her spokesperson refused to comment as well.
Protect Our Future has endorsed Torres, who recently stated that the super PAC hadn’t spent much on supporting his congressional run; Torres said his campaign had received nominal campaign contributions from players and super PACs in the crypto industry.
“I don’t have any digital assets under my name or anyone I know, I urge my fellow congressional members to do their research before airing their comments in public forums,” he mentioned in a recent interview he had in the Capitol.
He went on to add, “The condemnations are often made by public figures who don’t know how the crypto industry operates. As things stand, no one has a clue on how this industry will evolve.”
Torres published an op-ed in May arguing that Democratic liberals need to start embracing cryptocurrency as it can assist in evening the playing field for low-income and immigrant communities.
The op-ed came on the heels of President Joe Biden signing an executive order encouraging government officials to develop a strategy, “addressing the dangers and exploiting the benefits of cryptocurrencies,” such as cryptos and NFTs.
“Digital currencies, which enable direct money transmissions without a commercial middleman, have provided low-income communities additional freedom to transfer their own cash and send payments to their families in an instant and at an affordable rate,” noted Torres in the op-ed who represents the South Bronx and serves with McBath in different caucuses in congress.
He went on to add, “The capability to transfer the dollar fast and affordably can prove beneficial to all if we, the people concerned, give it a chance.” Protect Our Future President Michael Sadowsky has rejected claims that the independent expenditure only political committee is trying to gain favor with congressional legislators.
Michael claims that the views held by the candidate on digital currency and other assets have no impact on its endorsement and spending decisions. Sadowsky released a statement to clarify this position, further noting that: “Protect Our Future approves and invests in congressional contenders interested in making the future better. These are leaders who have shown that they can offer leadership even when things are tough.”
While Torres is neutral as far as the Georgia primary race, he has pointed out that Bourdeaux has in the past worked with moderates who helped frustrate the Build Back Better package. These moderates want Democrats first to obtain financing for infrastructure projects.
She later helped pass the $1.7 trillion social and climate spending financing policy championed by President Joe Biden. In reference to the Georgia primary and the campaign contributions, Torres later added: “It shouldn’t come as a surprise to note that there are people willing to back her rivals, especially after demonstrating that she isn’t committed to assisting in passing policies to finance pandemic preparedness.”
Bankman-Fried, one of the wealthiest men on earth, is the child of University law professors working at Stanford. The last few years have seen him emerge as one of the major players in Washington politics as far as campaign financing goes.
In 2020, he donated over $5 million to a campaign super PAC supporting Joe Biden. Federal Election Commission Filings show that he has financed both parties. He has written personal checks to Mitt Romney, Joe Manchin, Lisa Murkowski, and Parry Murray.