A super PAC funded by some of crypto’s most powerful companies has amassed an $85 million war chest—and now, the organization is beginning to deploy those funds against political candidates across the country.
The political action committee (PAC), Fairshake, is funded principally by crypto giants Coinbase, Andreessen Horowitz, and Ripple Labs, according to a recent Federal Election Commision filing.
While those companies and their leaders have pledged tens of millions of dollars each to the organization, though, sizable donations have also been made to Fairshake by a who’s who of crypto companies and their founders: ARK Invest, Solana Labs, Bitwise, Jump Crypto, Multicoin Capital, Paradigm, and the Winklevoss brothers, to name just a few.
On Monday, Fairshake began throwing millions of dollars at a negative ad blitz targeting Katie Porter, a Democratic congresswoman from Orange County currently in a four-way race for California’s open U.S. Senate seat. A Fairshake representative confirmed to Decrypt that the PAC has spent $2.9 million on anti-Porter ads since yesterday.
What does crypto have against Porter? The congresswoman is certainly not one of the industry’s most prominent enemies in Washington, and has rarely attracted the ire reserved for more outspoken crypto critics like Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown.
Porter has, however, repeatedly allied herself on a suite of issues with Warren, who taught her at Harvard Law School and endorsed her Senate run over a year ago.
What’s more, Porter’s chief Senate race rival and fellow Democrat, Los Angeles congressman Adam Schiff, has explicitly called for a crypto regulatory framework on his campaign website—in order, he says, to keep and grow the Web3 and blockchain industries in California. Porter’s campaign site does not mention crypto.
Ripple Labs and Andreessen Horowitz did not immediately respond to requests for comment regarding Fairshake’s targeting of Porter. A Coinbase representative pointed to the company’s recent blog post regarding Fairshake, which emphasizes the urgent need to support Americans who own digital assets and are upset with the current state of the U.S. financial system.
Interestingly, anti-Porter ads released by Fairshake in California have so far avoided discussing crypto whatsoever. The organization’s first ad, perhaps ironically, attempts to paint the congresswoman as being in the pocket of special interest groups.
“Katie Porter says one thing and does another,” a Fairshake representative said in a statement shared with Decrypt. “Despite her claims, Porter has taken campaign cash from the big banks, big pharma, and big oil, and her Super PAC is spending big to mislead Californians about her record.”
Porter’s campaign sees things differently—and made a point to emphasize the candidate’s lack of hostility to the crypto industry.
“Katie believes in the free market and that consumer protections pair well with financial innovation—but that’s not what this is about,” Porter campaign spokesperson Lindsay Reilly said in a statement shared with Decrypt. “It’s about billionaires and corporate special interests using misinformation to rig our elections. California voters will see through this scheme to mislead voters ahead of the March primary.”
Adam Schiff currently leads the pack of California Senate candidates with 25% support, according to a recent poll administered by USC, Cal Poly Pomona, and CSU Long Beach.
Porter and retired Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey, a Republican, are reportedly neck-and-neck for second place, at 15% each. The two Senate candidates that receive the most votes during the March 5 primary will proceed to a general election face-off in November.
Edited by Andrew Hayward