Crypto Political Group Fairshake Targets California Senate Candidate Katie Porter

The super PAC said it's spending millions to oppose the Democrat lawmaker in her Senate race, but her campaign says it's a "scheme to mislead voters."

AccessTimeIconFeb 13, 2024 at 7:39 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 9:30 p.m. UTC
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  • U.S. Rep. Katie Porter, a prominent Democrat progressive from California, has a crypto target on her back as one of the industry's leading campaign-finance organizations opposes her with ads.
  • Porter's campaign said that billionaires and corporate interests are trying to rig the March primary election with misinformation.

The U.S. crypto industry's most prominent campaign-finance organization, Fairshake, is going after Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), spending a part of its war chest to try to derail the progressive lawmaker's Senate bid.

A new video ad attempts to skewer Porter's own campaign fundraising and is part of what the group said is a multi-million-dollar effort in California and online.

"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," according to a statement from Fairshake, a political action committee (PAC) supported by crypto firms including Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), ARK Invest, Circle, Ripple and Coinbase (COIN).

Apart from criticism of the crypto mining sector's energy usage, Porter hasn't been among the more outspoken crypto critics. Her campaign said that California voters "will see through this scheme to mislead voters ahead of the March primary," according to spokesperson Lindsay Reilly.

"Katie believes in the free market and that consumer protections pair well with financial innovation – but that’s not what this is about," Reilly said in an emailed statement. "It's about billionaires and corporate special interests using misinformation to rig our elections."

Recent tallies of contributions to Fairshake put the industry super PAC's funding at more than $80 million. That doesn't yet mark a new high for crypto's political coffers. In the last U.S. campaign cycle, FTX alone spent at a similar level on candidates when its executives donated to one in three members of Congress, though that spending is now under a cloud as the bankruptcy has sought to claw it all back and U.S. authorities had investigated whether former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried violated campaign laws but decided not to pursue it with another trial.

In the current political landscape, crypto dollars had already been devoted against another Democratic lawmaker, too. The Cedar Innovation Foundation, which is backed by crypto interests who haven't identified themselves, has been gunning for Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee that has so far stood in the way of digital assets legislation in this congressional session. The group paid for ads in Ohio demanding Brown stand up to Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler.

Edited by Nikhilesh De.


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Jesse Hamilton

Jesse Hamilton is CoinDesk's deputy managing editor for global policy and regulation. He doesn't hold any crypto.

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