Hawaii House candidate gets a boost from a pair of crypto super PACs

Quick Take

  • Hawaii Democrat Patrick Pihana Branco is running for Congress, with help from key crypto industry players.
  • Two crypto-linked PACs, Web3 Forward PAC and DAO for America, have spent $294,000 to boost Branco’s campaign ahead of the primary on Saturday.

A crypto-friendly Democrat is on the ballot in Hawaii this weekend, and a pair of super PACs linked to the industry are spending cash to help him get elected.

Crypto PACs have spent well over a quarter of a million dollars to boost Hawaii Democrat Patrick Pihana Branco in the state's congressional primary. Branco is one of six candidates running. Voters in Hawaii head to the polls on Saturday. 

PACs linked to the crypto industry are not the only outside groups spending in the congressional race, and the contest won’t hinge on crypto policy. But political spending by Web3 Forward PAC and DAO for America PAC signals that the crypto industry sees Branco as a potential ally in Congress — and could perhaps help him overcome a double-digit gap in the polls. 

Branco is a 35-year-old state lawmaker who previously served in the US Foreign Service as a commissioned diplomat. He was introduced to cryptocurrency when he was living in Colombia in 2019.

“I got added to a WhatsApp group one day of diplomats that was called Diplo Crypto. And they're basically a group of diplomats that invest in crypto,” Branco said. “They text and talk about it all day.”

Branco was elected to the Hawaii state legislature in 2020, where he introduced legislation aimed at making Hawaii a more crypto-friendly state. He owns bitcoin and ether but did not say how much those assets are worth.

If elected to Congress, Branco said he would support legislation put forward by California Rep. Ro Khanna, a progressive who represents Silicon Valley. The bill, called the Digital Commodity Exchange Act (DCA), would create a new "regulatory framework for digital commodity developers, dealers and exchanges," by filling regulatory gaps between the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to a