Bannon is helping a Vermont crypto bro get elected to the Senate

Pierce has been presenting himself as a “true independent,” name-checking Bernie Sanders (who has endorsed Democratic Rep. Peter Welch in the race) while promoting clean energy and business development.

Behind the scenes, several former aides to former President Donald Trump, including Steve Bannon, have been assisting the anti-establishment effort, according to FEC records and interviews with five people close to the campaign who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not. authorized to talk to the press.

Pierce, who served as a director of the nonprofit Bitcoin Foundation and co-founded the controversial stablecoin Tether, is far from a frontrunner. He made a quixotic 2020 presidential bid, has never held office, and has little connection to Vermont. His representatives did not respond to several requests for comment, and it remains unclear how committed he is to mounting a serious Senate effort.

But his campaign is one of the more colorful efforts to convert newfound crypto riches (Forbes estimated his crypto wealth to be as much as 1 billion in 2018) into political power.

Though crypto moguls tend to be techno-libertarians, and Pierce is no exception, his MAGA hires illustrate the extent to which they have been ideologically flexible in building political alliances. While taking informal advice from Bannon, his campaign has retained the services of former Trump White House aides Boris Epshteyn, Steven Cheung and Stefan Passantino, according to FEC records and interviews with people close to the campaign.

In addition to hiring a team of right-wing populists, Pierce has cultivated close ties to Eric Adams, the moderate Democratic mayor of New York, and has considered hiring progressive operatives for his Senate run. His campaign website touts progressive-sounding causes, such as his philanthropic work with indigenous people and his passion for sustainability.

Pierce’s MAGA links began with Bannon, who worked for Pierce in the mid-aughts at an experimental venture that sold virtual accessories inside online multiplayer games.

Late last year, as Pierce began eyeing the Senate seat being vacated by Leahy, he engaged in a series of conversations with Bannon, according to two people close to the campaign.

Bannon, according to one of those people, advised him to go on an all-out spending blitz in the small state.

And, in a sign of Bannon’s own unpredictability, he told Pierce that if he wins, to caucus with whichever party ends up in control of the Senate.

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