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Popular QAnon figure Ron Watkins has asked for donations to help finance a Congressional run beset with funding challenges.
Watkins is running for election to the U.S. House of Representatives to represent Arizona’s 1st Congressional District.
“We’ve had some cancel culture challenges in setting up traditional fundraising, so I have designed a new innovative solution that uses Bitcoin for fundraising,” Watkins told over 423,000 followers on his Telegram channel last week.
“We’ve been having some funding challenges, that’s true. Lots of platforms won’t work with us,” Watkins added in an accompanying video.
“The point of this is to prove to the haters that we can raise money,” Watkins also said.
Per the Daily Beast, Watkins’ campaign has already raised “a few thousand dollars” since increasing calls for donations last week.
Who is Ron Watkins?
Some QAnon followers also believe Watkins to be the man behind the “Q” moniker, a reputation he has lived up to based on the misinformation he has shared across social media.
“Just as the fear of the CCP Virus was starting to wane in the eyes of the general public, a conveniently timed, and heavily mutated, variant has been ‘discovered,’” Watkins said on his Telegram channel last week.
“The vaccine is ineffective at best, and dangerous at its worst,” he also said recently.
Statements like these have come amid Watkins’ declaration for candidacy, which was announced on August 22, 2021. Watkins has pledged to raise $1 million to unseat Representative Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) from Arizona’s 1st district.
This is far from the first time conspiracy theorists and far-right extremists have turned to Bitcoin because of funding challenges in traditional finance.
Bitcoin and the far-right
The far-right has often pivoted to Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) when traditional payments have failed them. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is also following the pivot closely. A report published in the summer found that these groups pivot to Bitcoin when other financing methods become impossible.
“Without the ability to process credit card payments, some groups have moved to use virtual assets like Bitcoin to move funds,” the report said.
Examples of such funding have appeared on several occasions over the past few years.
Andrew Anglin, a founder of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, has received approximately $5 million worth of Bitcoin since January 2017. A week after the 2017 riots in Charlottesville, Anglin received a single Bitcoin donation worth $60,000.
Donations like those have acted as an economic lifeline for Anglin, who has been cut off by credit card processors and banned by PayPal.
In fact, Bitcoin has been so pivotal to Anglin’s financial stability that he published a guide called “Retard’s Guide to Using Bitcoin” in 2020—a guide which he claimed funded the Daily Stormer for four years.
In September, Douglass Mackey, a far-right conspiracist who spread misinformation and conspired to threaten voters, received $60,000 worth of Bitcoin to fund his legal case.
But, it’s not just Bitcoin. In recent weeks, conservative pundits like Candace Owens and Ryan Fournier have been pumping so-called “right-wing” cryptocurrencies.
One such example is the “Let’s Go Brandon” coin. The chant “Let’s Go Brandon,” has become a right-wing fill-in for a “[F*ck] Joe Biden” tweet, and has appeared in popular culture and sporting events across the United States.
“Finally into crypto and ALL IN on this Let’s Go Brandon coin. Because, #LetsGoBrandon,” tweeted Owens.
Even during the January 6, 2021, Capitol Hill riots, one donor sent $500,000 worth of Bitcoin to “far-right activists.” One recipient was Nick Fuentes, a white nationalist who was at the capitol at the time of the riot.
As for Watkins, It’s unclear exactly how much he’s raised for his latest Bitcoin campaign. The Daily Beast has, however, reported just a “few thousand” dollars so far.