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May 17, 2022, 10:07 p.m. EDT

Crypto gets political: How cryptocurrency impacted Tuesday’s primary elections

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By Weston Blasi

We’ve heard a lot about cryptocurrency prices and crypto exchange market caps over a tumultuous few months for the digital assets, but what about crypto’s influence on politics?

Turns out, a couple of Tuesday’s most closely watched primary elections in the U.S. have some connection to crypto.

In Oregon, a super PAC called Protect Our Future has spent nearly $11 million on the candidacy of Democratic House hopeful Carrick Flynn, according to Open Secrets , a site that tracks political donations. And the super PAC (an independent political action committee allowed to raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions and individuals — but not permitted to contribute to or coordinate directly with parties or candidates) is mostly funded by FTX CEO and cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried , according to a Politico report.

The super PAC has spent money on TV ads, radio ads and direct mail services on Flynn’s behalf, making the primary race for Oregon’s 6th congressional district the third most expensive House Democratic primary of this election cycle. It’s not clear if Bankman-Fried’s investment in Flynn is directly related to crypto — Bankman-Fried told the New York Times /zigman2/quotes/202090840/composite NYT +2.51% that he is giving money to Flynn because of his interest in pandemic preparedness, something that Flynn claims to have studied at the University of Oxford .

See also: Mark Cuban says crypto is going through a similar ‘lull’ to the early internet

Crypto is potentially playing a role in a different way in a North Carolina House Republican primary, where Rep. Madison Cawthorn might have violated insider trading laws regarding a pump and dump situation with an altcoin called Let’s Go Brandon, or LGB.

“LGB legends. … Tomorrow we go to the moon!’ wrote Cawthorn, who said he owned the crypto, in a post on his Instagram page in December, according to a Washington Examiner report . The next day, NASCAR driver Brandon Brown announced that the coin would be the primary sponsor on his racing team, leading to a 75% spike in value.

Watchdog groups told the Washington Examiner that Cawthorn’s post suggests he might have had insider knowledge about the meme coin’s sponsorship deal with Brown.

NASCAR eventually rejected Brown’s bid to make LBG his racing team’s sponsor. The coin’s current total market cap is $174,133 , compared with the $570 million it was worth immediately after Brown’s initial announcement. The Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Cawthorn’s representatives did not immediately respond to MarketWatch’s request for comment on this story.

Cawthorn has the support of former President Donald Trump. Trump wrote this week on Truth Social : “Recently, he made some foolish mistakes, which I don’t believe he’ll make again … let’s give Madison a second chance!”

Cawthorn currently represents the 11th congressional district in North Carolina, but his primary race is for the 13th district. “Knowing the political realities of the 13th district, I am afraid that another establishment go along to get along Republican would prevail there. I will not let that happen,” Cawthorn has said about his race .

See also: Here’s how much money you would’ve lost if you bought crypto during Matt Damon’s ‘Fortune Favors the Brave’ commercial

The crypto stories hovering over Tuesday’s primary elections come as crypto prices have dropped this year. Bitcoin /zigman2/quotes/31322028/realtime BTCUSD 0.00% prices were up 0.63% during Tuesday’s trading, but are down over 35% since the start of the year. Similarly, ether /zigman2/quotes/108573964/realtime ETHUSD +0.23% prices are up 1.33% during Tuesday’s trading, but down 44% since the start of the year. The S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +1.06% is down 14.53% in 2022.

Additionally, the recent collapse of stablecoin TerraUSD has led to Washington policymakers paying more attention to crypto regulations .

/zigman2/quotes/202090840/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 28.60
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$4.77 billion
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$427,851
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