Cryptocurrency Billionaire PAC Spends Nearly $ 1 Million in Illinois Democratic Congressional Primary

WASHINGTON – Protect Our Future, a political action committee funded by cryptocurrency billionaire Samuel Bankman-Fried, spent $ 914,944 to promote three Illinois Democratic primary candidates, including $ 500,065 for TV commercials in support of the first Congressional District nomination by Jonathan Jackson, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Spending to protect our future is what the FEC calls “market-based spending,” the law prohibits the PAC from coordinating or communicating with a candidate’s campaign.

A Sun-Times review of this political spending found:

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  • The Protect Our Future cash game comes when Jackson took an interest in the federally regulated digital assets industry. He is closely related to the chairman of the House Financial Services Commission, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.
  • Bankman-Fried is Protect Our Future’s largest donor. It appears to have broken federal rules on independent spending efforts by having no contact with the campaigns they are trying to help.

The PAC spent $ 151,420 on direct mail to support Representative Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., Even though he doesn’t face opponents in the primary or general election. It is very unusual for a PAC to enter a race where a candidate has no opposition.

Garcia told the Chicago Sun-Times Sunday that Bankman-Fried called him about a week and a half ago to discuss one of his problems, pandemic preparedness. Garcia is a member of the Financial Services Committee, which regulates parts of the digital asset industry.

  • Jackson also did not submit the required personal financial statement on Sunday, so voters have no idea of ​​Jackson’s sources of income.

The first primary district is to replace incumbent Bobby Rush, D-Ill., And the rarely-open polling station has 17 Democrats in the ballot. The winner of the June 28 primary in this heavily democratic district is likely to win the seat in November.

According to TV ad purchase tracking data shared with the Sun-Times, Protect Our Future commercials for Jackson air on cable channels during election day.

The Protect Our Future PAC also spent $ 263,453 on advertising in support of Nikki Budzinski, the first Democratic favorite for the 13th district, which winds its way through Southern Illinois Democratic parties: Decatur, Champaign-Urbana, Springfield, and East St Louis.

The purpose of the PAC, a spokesperson said, is to encourage pandemic prevention. Michael Sadowsky, president of Protect Our Future, said in a statement to the Sun-Times that the PAC “is proud” to support Jackson, Garcia and Budzinski “because all three will be advocates of pandemic prevention once elected to Congress.

Calls to Jackson for comment have yet to be returned.

THE FRIED BANK FILE: Bankman-Fried is the founder and CEO of FTX, an international cryptocurrency exchange headquartered in Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas.

Operation FTX United States – FTX US – is headquartered in Chicago’s West Loop.

Bankman-Fried has emerged as a major mega-donor in the 2022 cycle, according to Open Secrets, the campaign control group. Open Secrets reported on June 6 that FTX, “led by billionaire investor Sam Bankman-Fried, has positioned itself as a leader in the battle for flu.”

BANKMAN-FRIED HAS GIVEN $ 23 MILLION FOR ITS SUPER PAC: The $ 500,065 to raise Jackson comes from Protect Our Future, a new political action committee that can receive unlimited contributions from individuals. FEC records show that the PAC reported revenue of $ 24,156,970, of which $ 23 million came from Bankman-Fried, whose address is listed in Nassau. Another FTX executive, Nishad Singh, also a resident of Nassau, donated $ 1 million.

Forbes set Bankman-Fried’s net worth at $ 19.8 billion.

BANKMAN-FRIED AGENDA – CRYPT SETTLEMENT, PANDEMIC: The cryptocurrency industry, which is federally regulated, is experiencing tremendous growth and is under the constant scrutiny of Congress. In recent months, Bankman-Fried has testified before House and Senate committees examining the regulation of digital assets. Bankman-Fried witnessed before the House Financial Services Commission on December 8, 2021, at the hearing titled “Digital Assets and the Future of Finance”.

Bankman-Fried is also a donor to a non-profit group, Guarding Against Pandemics, led by his brother, Gabe Bankman-Fried.

JACKSON WEBSITE ISSUE REGARDING DIGITAL ACTIVITIES: Of all the areas of concern in the 1st Congressional District, which stretches into parts of the south and southwest, extending to neighboring Kankakee, regulation of the digital asset industry has emerged as a top priority for Jackson.

This is the first issue on Jackson’s website asking for more minority stakes in the cryptocurrency industry. Jackson even goes so far as to approve the regulatory framework in a specific bill: the “Digital Commodity Exchange Act”.

The second most important issue on Jackson’s website is the one titled “pandemic preparedness”.

JACKSON AND GARCIA HAVE A SIMILAR LANGUAGE FOR PANDEMIC PREPARATION ON THE WEBSITES: Jackson and Garcia have pandemic preparedness statements on their Web sites that share unusual language, each requiring “independent oversight of laboratories conducting troubling dual-use research.” They both approved one very specific thing: removing some supervisory powers from the National Institutes of Health.

Budzinski has nothing on his website regarding cryptographic or pandemic policy. Bankman-Fried also donated $ 6 million to the majority Democratic ally of the PAC House. Winning Illinois 13 is a priority for Democrats in the House and Budzinski is considered the strongest candidate in the primary.

JACKSON LINK TO FINANCIAL SERVICES PANEL: The Financial Services Committee is chaired by Waters, who is very close to the Jackson family, led by Reverend Jesse Jackson. As I reported in February, Jackson, during the launch of his election campaign, talked about Waters, who knew Jonathan and his disgraced brother, the former rep. Jesse Jackson, D-Ill., Since they were children. Former Rep Jackson resigned from his post under a cloud of investigation and went to jail for looting his campaign fund.

GARCIA TALKED TO BANKMAN-FRIED: Garcia noted when we spoke on Sunday that a candidate has no “choice” over independent spending. When I asked Garcia why the cryptocurrency billionaire had supported him, he replied, “Because I’ve been blunt about the pandemic and how it has affected Latino and minority communities.” And I was also very vocal in the Financial Services Committee about the need for the United States, through its representatives in international financial institutions, to provide vaccines to the world.

Garcia, referring to Bankman-Fried, said, “I spoke to the boy. He told me he appreciated my support for this political stance here at home and abroad. He called” about a week and a half ago. “

ABOUT THE BANKMAN’S FRIED PAC IN SUPPORT OF NIKKI BUDZINSKI: In an open poll, Springfield’s Budzinski leads the Democratic primary for the 13th district. Racing is a priority for Democrats in the House and November 13 could be competitive.

In April, Bankman-Fried contributed $ 6 million to the Democratic-allied PAC majority House whose goal is to keep the House under democratic control.

Bankman-Fried also made a personal donation of $ 2,900 to Ald. Gil Villegas (36th), in a primary where his main rival is State Representative Delia Ramirez, D-Chicago. Villegas on his website calls for a “new regulatory framework” for cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

JACKSON LOWERED ON CAMPAIGN MONEY:Jackson’s $ 500,065 outside spending is about as much or more than what the main separate campaigns have raised. Jackson is following his main rivals in fundraising. Jackson loaned his campaign $ 50,000 in May.

Buying Protect Our Future ads is pretty significant, considering what the top five rivals have garnered in total as of June 8, according to pre-primary reports filed with the FEC last week.

Jonathan Swain, $ 543,198 raised with $ 154,892 in cash.

Pat Dowell raised $ 531,811 with $ 248,184 in cash.

Karin Norington-Reaves raised $ 459,826 with $ 187,454 in cash.

Jonathan Jackson, $ 375,303 raised with $ 49,089 in cash

Jacqueline Collins, $ 160,936 raised with $ 56,209 in cash.

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