Crypto PACs backed by Scaramucci, Bankman-Fried plan ads

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

Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

A network of political action committees supported by cryptocurrency industry leaders are planning a last-minute ad campaign in support of congressional candidates, according to one of the groups’ chief strategists.

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

The groups plan to invest in TV ads supporting candidates from both sides of the aisle just days before the midterm Election Day, Nov. 8, this person said. The PACs aim to initially air their aids in California, Oregon, Colorado and Texas, but are still assessing which candidates they will support.

During the primary season, Web3 Forward backed Democrats running for Congress, while Crypto Innovation supported Republicans, according to Federal Election Commission records. Neither PAC has bought any campaign ads since September, when primary elections were coming to a close.

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

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

The spending by the crypto PACs will add to a flurry of cash in what are expected to be the most expensive midterm elections ever. Already, $6.4 billion has flowed into 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 tiebreaking 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 shape whether Democrats can keep their eight-seat majority in the House.

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

The group also got $1 million each in May from Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, two managing partners at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, records show. The firm’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.

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

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

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