October 7, 2022

The crypto-funded PAC making a big play in GOP primaries

As cryptocurrency companies and figures step up their involvement in American politics, one new group — American Dream Federal Action PAC — has started playing an outsized role in Republican primaries.

FTX Digital Markets co-CEO Ryan Salame launched the PAC in April with a $4 million initial investment, focusing mainly on issues related to cryptocurrency, national and economic security. Salame chipped in another $8 million in May, and the super PAC has spent more than $7.3 million for nine Republican congressional candidates, according to FEC filings.

Alongside FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried — who has funded the Protect Our Future super PAC that’s spent big in Democratic primaries — Salame has also financed the more-general GMI PAC, a fund that in turn sends money to Democratic-candidate backer Web3 Forward PAC.

Increased political expenditures from investors like Salame come as cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin trended downwards this spring, and some individual investors worried about the future of the currency system.

This month, ADFA has aired more than 30 ads, according to AdImpact — primarily aimed at Republican races in Alabama and Illinois, plus some digital advertisements for South Dakota Rep. Dusty Johnson.

ADFA has often boosted more establishment-oriented or “governing”-minded candidates against more hard-right primary foes, but the group’s advertising doesn’t stick out as moderate. Leading up to Senate candidate Katie Britt and House candidate Dale Strong’s races this week, ADFA spent more than $362,000 on three videos ragging on the “radical left,” who could turn the “American dream into a socialist nightmare.” Strong and Britt both won in their respective runoff elections on Tuesday.

The PAC also plastered the airwaves for the member-versus-member Illinois race between GOP Reps. Rodney Davis and Mary Miller in the 15th District. ADFA has spent more than $2.3 million on the race, according to FEC filings, with many concentrated in the past two weeks. The spots mainly concentrate on veterans, law enforcement support and Davis’ anti-abortion stance. The ads also promote Davis as a truer conservative compared to Miller — who has former President Donald Trump’s endorsement.

In other recent crypto spending, the Crypto Freedom PAC placed almost $671,000 in cable and broadcast flights in the Arizona senate race on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Crypto Innovation got involved in Oklahoma Senate candidate Markwayne Mullin’s race, centering Trump’s endorsement and issues like inflation.

FOUR MORE ADS TO WATCH THIS WEEK:

Ahead of the Arizona Republican Senate primary, the pro-Blake Masters super PAC Saving Arizona put out an ad against candidate Jim Lamon on Wednesday, calling him “China’s candidate for Senate.” The video features stereotypical music and gong noises in the background. In red and gold script, boxes try to connect the candidate to “slave labor” at nuclear power plants before labeling him “Jim Lamon for U.S. Senate (R-China)” at the end of the video.

Somos PAC released an ad against the GOP nominee for Senate in Nevada, Adam Laxalt, saying he opposed the Affordable Care Act, the “single most important type of insurance we have in the Latino community.” He also put pharmaceutical profits over health care, the narrator adds.

A Wednesday spot for Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) juxtaposes her against construction workers who say the senator “stood up to her own party” when Washington Democrats tried to impose a new mining tax. “Catherine Cortez Masto wasn’t afraid to pick up some dirt either,” an unnamed worker says. “Catherine puts Nevada first, and that’s what we need in a senator.”

Georgia Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks to viewers about his father in a video from Friday. He stresses his desire to work across the aisle and with other members of his party while hammering the elder Warnock’s message of: “If somebody hires you to do a job, do the job they hired you to do.” He released another ad on Friday called “Walker vs. The Truth,” claiming his opponent lied about having 800 employees at his business when he really has eight.

TOP CANDIDATE SPENDING (6/17/22-6/22/22, per AdImpact): 

Pritzker for IL Governor: $1,367,025
Delgado for NY Lt. Governor: $1,177,435
Demings for FL Senate: $1,059,887
Warnock for GA Senate: $773,098
Irvin for IL Governor: $692,758

TOP COMMITTEES/OUTSIDE GROUPS/SUPER PAC SPENDING (6/17/22-6/22/22, per AdImpact):

Computer and Communications Industry Association PAC: $3,076,508
National Republican Senatorial Committee: $2,154,104
One Nation: $2,107,014
Democratic Governors Association: $1,906,395
Taxpayers Protection Alliance: $1,529,505

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