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Billionaire Quant Trader Donated a Record $1.9M of Bitcoin to a Super PAC

Billionaire Quant Trader Donated a Record $1.9M of Bitcoin to a Super PAC

Billionaire Quant Trader Donated a Record $1.9M of Bitcoin to a Super PAC

Jeffrey Yass, co-founder of Susquehanna International Group, gave 100 bitcoin to a crypto-supporting super PAC.

Jeffrey Yass, co-founder of Susquehanna International Group, gave 100 bitcoin to a crypto-supporting super PAC.

Jeffrey Yass, co-founder of Susquehanna International Group, gave 100 bitcoin to a crypto-supporting super PAC.

AccessTimeIconOct 26, 2022, 9:27 PM
Updated May 9, 2023, 4:00 AM
Susquehanna International Group's Jeffrey Yass (SIG/Getty Images, modified by CoinDesk)

Jeffrey Yass is the billionaire co-founder of trading giant Susquehanna International Group (SIG) and also a political mega-donor: He and his wife are the 2022 elections’ fifth-biggest contributors, right behind crypto exchange titan Sam Bankman-Fried.

But when it comes to donating in crypto, Yass outranks even the FTX chief. In early July, Yass gave 100 bitcoin (BTC), then worth more than $1.9 million, to Crypto Freedom PAC, a representative for the super PAC confirmed to CoinDesk. It is the largest bitcoin-denominated political donation ever recorded by the Federal Election Commission.

“I think Jeff wanted to signal support” for cryptocurrencies, said David McIntosh, president of Club for Growth Action, which is linked to the Crypto Freedom PAC. He added that the crypto PAC backs candidates who are against government regulation of cryptocurrencies.

A voicemail message seeking a comment from David Pollard, SIG's head of strategic planning and special counsel, wasn't immediately returned.

Yass’ entrance to crypto politics marks a new chapter for a major force in political fundraising. This election cycle he has donated over $30 million (most of it in cash, not crypto) to PACs promoting school choice and conservative candidates, including $6.5 million to the fiscally conservative Club for Growth.

It comes as SIG, a major market maker and quant trading firm, continues to build out its crypto businesses with new jobs in its suburban Philadelphia headquarters and new offices in Bahamas, where Bankman-Fried is also building an offshore crypto business mecca for FTX.

Crypto PACs

Capitol Hill’s increasing spotlight on crypto regulation has spawned a new wave of special interest PACs and pro-industry candidates – and a smattering of small-dollar crypto donations supporting their cause. The result: it’s becoming more common for candidates and PACs to report contributions of bitcoin, ether (ETH) or stablecoins.

But a donation of 100 bitcoin is on another plane entirely. According to federal election disclosure data, Jeff Yass donated $1.94 million of bitcoin to Crypto Freedom PAC on July 1. The PAC later sold the crypto in tranches through River Financial for $2.2 million, the records show.

“There was some argument over whether we should hold on to it to see if it goes back up, but we needed it for our races,” McIntosh said.

He said the PAC supports turning the U.S. into a global home for crypto innovation by limiting government attempts at regulatory overreach. It is backing candidates who share that vision, such as Blake Masters, an Arizona Republican U.S. Senate candidate who is heavily invested in crypto.

CORRECTION (Oct. 27, 2022, 03:13 UTC): The story has been updated to change the identity of the person quoted in the story to Club for Growth Action's David McIntosh from Joe Kildea, the communications lead for Crypto Freedom PAC and Club for Growth Action. Kildea participated in the interview but wasn't the one who said those things. Also, the amount the bitcoin were sold for has been corrected to $2.2 million.

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Danny is CoinDesk's Managing Editor for Data & Tokens. He owns BTC, ETH and SOL.