Crypto Billionaire PAC Spends Nearly $1 Million on Illinois Democratic Congressional Elections

WASHINGTON — Protect Our Future, a political action committee funded by cryptocurrency billionaire Samuel Bankman-Fried, has spent $914,944 to boost three Illinois Democratic primary candidates, including $500,065 for television ads supporting Jonathan Jackson’s candidacy for the 1st congressional district, according to Federal Election Commission data.

Protect our future spending is what the FEC calls ‘arm’s length spending’. The law prohibits the PAC from coordinating or communicating with a candidate’s campaign.

A Sun-Times review of these political expenses found:

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  • The Protect Our Future cash game comes as Jackson has taken an interest in the federally regulated digital asset industry. He is closely associated with the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.
  • Bankman-Fried is the lead donor to Protect Our Future. He appears to have broken federal rules about independent spending without contacting the campaigns they are trying to help.

The PAC spent $151,420 on direct mail in support of Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., even though he has no opponents in the primary or general election. It is highly unusual for a PAC to jump into a race where a candidate has no 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 concerns, which is preparing for a pandemic. Garcia serves on the Financial Services Committee, which regulates parts of the digital asset industry.

  • Jackson also failed to submit a mandatory personal financial statement on Sunday, leaving voters clueless about Jackson’s sources of income.

The primary of the 1st District must be the incumbent Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill. replaced, and the rarely open seat has 17 Democrats on the ballot. The winner of the June 28 primary in this heavily-democratic district is likely to win the November seat.

According to TV ad tracking data shared with the Sun-Times, Protect Our Future spots for Jackson will air on cable channels during Election Day.

The Protect Our Future PAC also spent $263,453 on ads in support of Nikki Budzinski, the Democratic forerunner of the 13th district, which is making its way through the Democratic parties in southern Illinois — Decatur, Champaign-Urbana, Springfield, and East St. Louis.

The purpose of the PAC, a spokesman said, is to encourage pandemic prevention. Michael Sadowsky, the 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 champions of pandemic prevention once they are in Congress.” chosen.

Calls to Jackson for comment have yet to be answered.

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

The headquarters of FTX United States – FTX US – is located in Chicago’s West Loop.

Bankman-Fried has become one of the largest mega-donors in the 2022 cycle, according to Open Secrets, the campaign watchdog group. Open Secrets reported on June 6 that FTX, “led by billionaire investor Sam Bankman-Fried, has positioned itself as a leader in the struggle for influence.”

BANKMAN-FRIED GIVES $23 MILLION TO HIS SUPER PAC: The $500,065 to boost Jackson comes from Protect Our Future, a new political action committee that can receive unlimited contributions from individuals. FEC data shows that the PAC reported $24,156,970 in revenue, of which $23 million came from Bankman-Fried, whose address is in Nassau. Another FTX executive, Nishad Singh, also with an address in Nassau, donated $1 million.

Forbes linked Bankman-Fried’s net worth to $19.8 billion.

BANKMAN-FRIED AGENDA – CRYPTO SETTLEMENT, PANDEMIA: The crypto industry, which is federally regulated, is booming and under constant scrutiny from Congress. In recent months, Bankman-Fried has testified before House and Senate committees investigating regulation of digital assets. Bankman-Fried testified before the House Financial Services Committee on December 8, 2021, the hearing titled “Digital Assets and the Future of Finance.”

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

DIGITAL ASSETS REGULATIONS ON JACKSON’S WEBSITE: Of all the concerns in the 1st Congressional District, which spans parts of the South and Southwest sides and extends near Kankakee, regulation of the digital asset industry has emerged as a top priority for Jackson.

This is the first issue on Jackson’s website where he calls for larger minority stakes in the crypto sector. Jackson even goes so far as to approve the regulatory framework in a specific bill – the “Digital Commodity Exchange Act”.

The second most prominent song on Jackson’s site is one titled “pandemic preparedness.”

JACKSON AND GARCIA HAVE A SIMILAR LANGUAGE FOR PANDEMIC ON SITES: Jackson and Garcia have statements on their websites about pandemic preparedness that share unusual language — each calling for “independent oversight of labs conducting worrying dual-use research.” Both approved one very specific thing: removing some supervisory power from the National Institutes of Health.

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

JACKSON LINK TO FINANCIAL SERVICES PANEL: The Financial Services Committee is chaired by Waters, who is very close to the Jackson family, headed by Reverend Jesse Jackson. As I reported in February, during his campaign kick-off, Jackson spoke of Waters, who knew Jonathan and his disgraced brother, the ex-Representative. Jesse Jackson, D-Ill., since they were kids. Former Representative Jackson resigned from his seat under a cloud of investigation and went to jail for looting his campaign fund.

GARCIA SPEAKS WITH 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 supported him, he replied, “Because I’ve been outspoken about the pandemic and how it has affected Latino and minority communities.” And I was also very vocal on 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 that man. He told me that he very much appreciated my support for this policy position here at home and abroad. He called “about a week and a half ago.”

ON BANKMAN-FRIED PAC SUPPORTING NIKKI BUDZINSKI: In an open seat contest, Budzinski, of Springfield, leads the Democratic primary for the 13th district. The race is a priority for House Democrats and November 13 could be competitive.

In April, Bankman-Fried contributed $6 million to the Democratic-allied House Majority PAC, 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 calls on its website for a “new regulatory framework” for cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

JACKSON UNDER CAMPAIGN MONEY:The $500,065 in outside spending for Jackson is about as much or more than what individual major campaigns have raised. Jackson follows his main fundraising rivals. Jackson loaned his campaign $50,000 in May.

Buying Protect Our Future ads is pretty significant given what the top five rivals have amassed in total each on 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, raised $160,936 with $56,209 in cash.

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