Crypto billionaire’s PAC spends nearly $1 million in Illinois Democratic congressional primaries

WASHINGTON – Protect Our Future, a political action committee funded by cryptocurrency billionaire Samuel Bankman-Fried, has spent $ 914,944 to push three candidates for the Illinois Democratic primary, including $ 500,065 for television commercials to support the First District’s candidacy. Jonathan Jackson Congress, according to Federal Electoral Commission records.

Spending to Protect Our Future is what the FEC calls “independent spending,” with the PAC prohibited by law from coordinating or communicating with a candidate’s campaign.

A Sun-Times review of this political spending found:

  • The Protect Our Future cash game comes out when Jackson became interested in the federally regulated digital asset industry. He is closely linked to the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Maxine Waters, a Democrat from California.
  • Bankman-Fried is the main donor to protect our future. He appears to have violated federal rules on independent spending efforts that have no contact with campaigns trying to help.

The PAC has spent $ 151,420 on direct mail to support MP Jesus Chuy Garcia, a Democrat from the Ill. raise or spend money. It is very unusual for a PAC to jump into a race in which a candidate has, for practical purposes, zero real opposition.

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

  • Jackson also failed to file a mandatory personal finance statement until Sunday, so voters have no idea of ​​Jackson’s sources of income.

First District primaries will replace retiring representative Bobby Rush, an Ill. Democrat, and the rarely-open seat has 17 Democrats on the ballot. The winner of the June 28 primary in this heavily Democratic district will likely get the seat in November.

According to Sun-Times shared TV ad purchase tracking data, Protect Our Future ads for Jackson are running on cable channels now until election day.

The Protect Our Future PAC also spent $ 263,453 on ads to support Nikki Budzinski, the favorite in the 13th district Democratic primary, which winds through Democratic parts of the state of Illinois: Decatur, Champaign-Urbana, Springfield and East St. Louis.

The goal of the CAP, a spokesman 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 Budzinsky “because all three will be champions of pandemic prevention once elected to Congress.” .

Calls to Jackson for comment have not yet been returned.

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

Operation FTX United States – FTX US – is headquartered in the West Loop of Chicago.

Bankman-Fried has emerged as one of the top mega-donors of the 2022 cycle, according to Open Secrets, the campaign’s watchdog. 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 influence.”

BANKMAN-FRIED GIVES $ 23 MILLION TO ITS SUPER PAC: The $ 500,065 to boost Jackson is from Protect Our Future, a new political action committee that can receive unlimited contributions from individuals. FEC records show that the CAP reported $ 24,156,970 in receipts, of which $ 23 million came from Bankman-Fried, whose address is in Nassau. Another FTX executive, Nishad Singh, also based in Nassau, gave $ 1 million.

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

FRIENDLY AGENDA OF BANKERS – CRYPTO REGULATION, PANDEMIC: The cryptographic industry, which is regulated at the federal level, is experiencing tremendous growth and is under constant scrutiny by Congress. In recent months, Bankman-Fried has testified before House and Senate committees that they consider digital asset regulations. Bankman-Fried testified before the House Financial Services Committee on December 8, 2021, at the hearing entitled “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.

REGULATION OF DIGITAL ASSETS PROBLEM PRINCIPLE ON THE JACKSON WEBSITE: Of all the issues of concern in the 1st District of Congress, which covers parts of the south and southwest sides, extending as far as near Kankakee, regulation of the digital asset industry has emerged as a priority for Jackson.

That’s the first issue on Jackson’s website, where he calls for more minority participation in the crypto business. Jackson even goes so far as to endorse the regulatory framework in a specific bill: the “Digital Commodity Exchange Act.”

The second most prominent topic on the Jackson site is one entitled “Preparing for a Pandemic.”

JACKSON, GARCIA HAVE A SIMILAR PANDEMIC PREPARATION LANGUAGE ON WEBSITES: Jackson and Garcia have pandemic preparedness statements on their websites that share unusual language, each calling for “independent oversight of laboratories conducting dual-use research.” Both approved one very specific thing: take away some supervisory power from the National Institutes of Health.

Budzinski has nothing on his website about the cryptocurrency or pandemic policy. Bankman-Fried also donated $ 6 million to the CAP of the majority of the Democratic Allied House. Winning Illinois 13 is a priority for House Democrats, and Budzinski is seen as the strongest candidate in her primaries.

JACKSON LINK TO FINANCIAL SERVICES PANEL: The Financial Services Committee is chaired by Waters, who is very close to the Jackson family, led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson. As I reported in February, Jackson, at the beginning of his campaign, spoke of Waters, who met Jonathan and his disgraced brother, the ex-reputed. Jesse Jackson, D-Ill., Since they were kids. Former Rep. Jackson resigned from his seat under a cloud of investigation and was jailed for looting his campaign fund.

GARCÍA SPOKE WITH BANKMAN-FRIED: Garcia pointed out when we spoke on Sunday that a candidate has no “choice” over independent spending. When I asked Garcia why the cryptocurrency billionaire supported him, he said, “Because I was honest about the pandemic,” and how it affected “disproportionately” Latino and minority communities. And I was also very vocal on the Financial Services Committee on the need for the United States, through its representatives in the international financial institutions, to provide vaccines for everyone. “

Garcia, referring to Bankman-Fried, said: “I spoke with the guy. He told me he appreciated my support for that political position, here, in the country and on board.” He called it “a week and a half ago or so.”

NO BANKER’S FRIED PAC SUPPORTING NIKKI BUDZINSKI: In an open seat contest, Springfield’s Budzinski is the favorite in the Democratic primary for District 13. The race is a priority for House Democrats, and the 13th may be competitive in November.

In April, Bankman-Fried donated $ 6 million to the CAP of the majority of the Democratic Allied House, which aims 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 the state deputy Delia Ramírez, deputy of Chicago. Villegas calls for a “new regulatory framework” on its website for cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

JACKSON DOWN WITH CAMPAIGN CASH:The $ 500,065 external spending for Jackson is about as much or more than the major separate campaigns raised. Jackson lags behind his main fundraising rivals. Jackson lent his campaign $ 50,000 in May.

Buying Protect Our Future ads is quite important, given the cash of the top five rivals according to pre-primary reports submitted to the FEC last week, which cover contributions and spending through June 8th.

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

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

Karin Norington-Reaves $ 459,826 raised 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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