PAC-Backed Candidate Tied to Bankman-Fried Loses Oregon Primary

PAC-Backed Candidate Tied to Bankman-Fried Loses Oregon Primary

Andrea Salinas has won the Democratic primary elections for the newly created sixth district of Oregon in the United States House of Representatives. Practically since its inception, the electoral race was the subject of intense media attention, which focused on most notably Salinas’s opponent, Carrick Flynn, whose campaign was generously funded by the Protect Our Future political action committee (PAC), backed by billionaire FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried. The PAC paid for an avalanche of publicity in support of Flynn.

Salinas won the seat with 38% of the votes, while Flynn came in second with 19%, and the rest of the votes were distributed among seven other candidates.

Salinas has strong political experience, having been a three-term member of the State House of Representatives representing Portland’s upscale Lake Oswego neighborhood. Before that, she was a legislative adviser in Washington and worked for an Oregon environmental group. Flynn, an Oregon native who left the state after graduating from college in 2008 and returned in 2020, has emerged from anonymity thanks to the support of the PAC.

Flynn also received $1 million in support from the House Majority PAC, which is closely associated with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Senator Elizabeth Warren countered that move by supporting Salinas. Flynn appeared to be a serious contender in a poll released on May 7. A few days later, Protect Our Future changed its advertising tactics, moving from ads predominantly depicting Flynn’s difficult rural childhood to ads attacking Salinas, accusing her of being under the influence of the pharmaceutical industry.

Protect Our Future’s stated goal is “to help elect candidates who take a long-term view in policy planning […] guided by a set of key principles” including pandemic prevention and belief in science. These themes echo a philosophical trend called effective altruism, which both Flynn and Bankman-Fried are known to admire. Estimates of the amount spent by Protect Our Future on Flynn’s campaign range from $8 million to $10 million.

“This is, by all accounts, about three times higher than any other Super PAC effort in any congressional primary in the country,” said Jim Moore, director of political outreach at the McCall Center for Civic Engagement, to Cointelegraph in an email:

“The ads bought Flynn name recognition, but not victory. They created a backlash among the other candidates and, apparently, a voter turnout about outside money trying to buy a congressional seat.”

Flynn’s opponents in the election formed a united front to convict him, with local media outlets highlighting Flynn’s few ties to the state, his patchy voting record, and the potentially questionable motives of the PAC backing him. The controversy soon attracted national coverage as well.

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“Flynn’s political future in Oregon will depend on whether he becomes an active player in state or local political efforts,” Moore said. “If not, it will end up being a trivia question about the time a cryptocurrency billionaire and the House Majority PAC tried to grab the new Oregon district for reasons never made clear on the campaign trail.”

Protect Our Future’s abundant financial support has proven controversial in other electoral races as well. Donations from the PAC were used in advertisements for an opponent of Jasmine Crockett in the 30th District of Texas. Crockett has received close to a million dollars from the PAC. Protect Our Future is also among the PACs choosing between Democratic candidates Carolyn Bourdeaux and Lucy McBath in the contentious battle for Georgia’s 7th District.

Flynn, Andreas, and Protect Our Future President Michael Sadowsky have not responded to requests for comment from Cointelegraph at the time of publication of this story.

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