New Crypto Bro PAC Spending Millions on Ads to Defeat Katie Porter in California Senate Race

Whatever remaining cryptocurrency moguls who are not looking at prison time have coalesced around a common enemy in Senate candidate Katie Porter, as money from Ron Conway and Andreessen Horowitz just bought $2 million worth of attack ads against her.

One-time biggest name in cryptocurrency, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, is now headed to prison on fraud charges. Same goes for the former second-name biggest name in cryptocurrency, former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, who will be sentenced in April. But this has not daunted the crypto bro vision in general.

In fact, the New York Times reports that a cryptocurrency-focused political action committee (PAC) has raised a nearly $80 million war chest to influence the 2024 elections, and Politico’s Christopher Cadelago points out that they’ve spent $2 million on a TV ad campaign against Rep. Katie Porter, who’s running for Dianne Feinstein’s former Senate seat.

(As a reminder, it is crunch time in that Senate race. The March 5 primary is just three weeks from today, and only two of the four candidates running will move on to the November 5 election. The crypto PAC wants to make sure Porter is not one of them, with the TV ad seen below.)

The PAC is called Fairshake, and the commercial does not mention that their cause is cryptocurrency, perhaps to avoid association with all of the criminal money laundering in that sector. The ad shows doctored video of Porter’s famed viral whiteboard moments and decries her “claims not to take corporate PAC money,” while showing that she received campaign donations of between $500-$2,900 from a pharmaceutical company executive and a bank president.

These are all still individual donations from an actual human being, not a corporation or a PAC. And never mind the irony of a $2 million ad campaign calling someone out for taking $500-$2,900 contributions from individuals.

The Times reports that Fairshake’s $80 million election war chest comes “mostly” from Andreessen Horowitz, Coinbase, and Ripple Labs, all of whom have major stakes in crypto. And Politico adds that our longtime tech industry puppet master Ron Conway is also a major donor. Per the Times, Fairshake has pulled in veteran political lobbying groups Impact Research (Biden 2020 campaign) and Jamestown Associates (Trump 2020 campaign).

So why are the crypto bros out to get Katie Porter? One can only speculate, but Politico’s Cadelago notes that Porter has criticized the industry over environmental concerns over crypto mining. And notably, this is the first major negative TV attack ad campaign against a Democrat in this race. (Schiff’s campaign is running an ad that calls out Republican Steve Garvey for voting for Trump twice.)

And its desired effect seems to be to knock out Katie Porter in the March 5 primary election. It’s no secret that the leading candidate in that primary, Rep. Adam Schiff, also wants to see Porter knocked out, so he can cakewalk to an easy blue-state November victory over Garvey. Last poll we saw, Garvey and Porter are both tied at 15% for second place, while Schiff is comfortably in first place at 25%.

So Porter, and a gaggle of wealthy crypto investors, have three weeks to break that tie however they can.

Related: Debate for Feinstein’s Senate Seat: Adam Schiff, Katie Porter and Barbara Lee Spar, Steve Garvey Wishy-Washes [SFist]

Image: WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 25: U.S. Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) speaks during a news conference on Medicare Advantage plans in front of the U.S. Capitol on July 25, 2023 in Washington, DC. Joined by Medicare advocates, Congressional Democrats held a news conference “to call for action to stop wrongful delays and denials in private Medicare Advantage plans, to end to fraudulent overpayments, and to mandate accountability for the worst actors who hurt patients.” (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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