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Super PAC that’s attacked progressive Democrats spending big on Figures in CD2

Protect Progress, which has spent $1.7M backing Figures, has drawn national headlines for massive spending against cryptocurrency consumer protection advocates.

Shomari Figures
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On Wednesday, a new federal campaign report dropped in the Democratic Primary for Alabama’s 2nd congressional district – this one showing a massive $412,000 “media buy” for candidate Shomari Figures. 

The report was filed by the super PAC Protect Progress – a PAC created by cryptocurrency interests that has spent significant funds attacking Democrats around the country – and it was only the latest massive expenditure the PAC has doled out for Figures. 

In total, Protect Progress has spent more than $1.7 million on Figures in this race – buying up sleek mailers and producing commercials in an effort to blitz a district that encompasses some of the most impoverished Americans with materials supporting the little-known candidate. 

Nationally, Protect Progress and two affiliated super PACs have drawn media attention for spending huge amounts of money to fight against lawmakers who want to regulate the troubled industry more thoroughly in the wake of devastating scandals and fraud. Most notably, it has focused on defeating Katie Porter in California and Sherrod Brown in Ohio, viewing both as top supporters of cryptocurrency regulation. The attacks on Porter, one of the most recognizable advocates for consumers and for fair banking and investing practices, have drawn particular criticism in Democratic circles. 

The $1.7 million Protect Progress has spent to back Figures so far is significantly more than all other candidates in the race combined have spent, and a remarkable sum for a House race in Alabama. Why it has spent so much money on Figures isn’t clear, although several media outlets noted an “odd” statement on Figures’ campaign website. 

On the “issues” page of Figures website, there is this: “Embrace the new landscape around digital assets, like Cryptocurrency, to stimulate innovation and technological advancement and ensure, as blockchain continues to evolve, its applications benefit our District in areas like supply chain management, healthcare, and identity verification.”

It’s a similar statement to those that have appeared on the websites for Republican candidates, which Politico noted have been more eager to embrace cryptocurrency platforms in exchange for huge donations. The American Prospect called the statement something that might have been expected in 2022, but unusual in the wake of so many recent cryptocurrency scandals. 

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APR asked the Figures campaign a series of questions regarding the huge expenditures on his campaign’s behalf. The response back avoided the questions altogether and instead pivoted into a whataboutism related to vague allegations of other candidates in the race getting support from Republicans. 

We cannot control who outside organizations support and how they spend their money,” a statement from Figures said. “It’s disappointing to see some other candidates in this race are being bank-rolled by MAGA Republican super donors. We have built enormous support around our campaign because voters know we’re going to take our shared values and priorities to Washington: expanding healthcare, modernizing schools, expanding access to capital for small business owners, and defending our most sacred right to vote. We can move this district forward with the right representative in Washington, and voters can trust that’s exactly what I’ll do.”

While Figures has never held public office in Alabama, he has worked the last several years for the Department of Justice, which is at least partially responsible for regulating the cryptocurrency industry. Two questions posed by APR asked Figures if he ever specifically worked on cryptocurrency regulation, and whether he could assure voters that he would hold their interests above those of the cryptocurrency industry given the huge expenditures on his behalf. Neither question was answered. 

It’s easy to understand why the cryptocurrency industry is concerned with regulation. After more than a year of unprecedented turmoil, in which millions of people lost huge sums of money thanks to lax regulation and almost nonexistent oversight, lawmakers are now eager to get the industry under some form of control. And an industry where some people have hauled in huge sums of money selling questionable assets, and failing to protect the deposits of investors in some notable cases, isn’t so eager to accept them.

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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