Super-PAC with ties to Bitcoin becomes a big spender in Hawaii congressional race

According to Civil Beat, the committee has ties to the cryptocurrency industry and has spent nearly $250,000 on advertising this month.
Published: Jul. 13, 2022 at 5:04 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 14, 2022 at 5:21 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A super PAC with ties to Bitcoin is spending big money to help a Hawaii Democratic congressional candidate who’s trailing in the polls.

According to Civil Beat, super PAC Web3 Forward has spent $249,000 on advertising this month to support state Rep. Patrick Branco in his bid to represent Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District.

That’s even though former state Sen. Jill Tokuda appears to be the Democratic frontrunner in the race.

The congressional seat covers rural Oahu and the neighbor islands, and hasn’t gotten a lot of attention until now.

Branco told HNN he doesn’t have anything to say about the ads.

“I do not and cannot coordinate with any outside group,” he said.

Tokuda, meanwhile, said she’d disappointed to see the PACs participation in the race.

“Unfortunately, there’s really nothing to stop super-PACs from coming into the state and trying to put a whole lot of money toward influencing an election,” she said.

The latest Civil Beat/Hawaii News Now poll shows Tokuda in the lead at 31% with Branco at 6%. Some 63% of registered Democratic voters were still undecided.

“That’s a very large number and in comparison to my opponent who has run a statewide race, I’m the new face on the scene,” said Branco.

“I do believe we can make up the difference. The race comes down to name recognition,” he added.

Tokuda said the poll “did highlight the amazing amount of work that we have to do to get out in front of voters and really earn their trust one step at a time.”

“We know the ballots probably drop next week so it’s really a race to the primary,” she added.

Tokuda is a former state senator and ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor, losing to Josh Green by almost 3 points. Branco, currently a state representative, served in the U.S. Foreign Service as a diplomat.

Voters will receive their mail in ballots by July 26. The primary election is Aug. 13.

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