Jan. 6 US Committee Hits Rioters With Subpoenas Over Bitcoin Donations
The United States Senate Select Committee on the January 6, 2021, Capitol Hill riot has subpoenaed Nick Fuentes and Patrick Casey, two far-right extremists who reportedly received Bitcoin from a French donor before the riot itself.
"The Select Committee is seeking facts about the planning, coordination, and funding of events that preceded the violent attack on our democracy. We believe the individuals we have subpoenaed today have information relevant to those questions, and we expect them to cooperate with the committee," Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said earlier this week.
"The committee will continue to push forward to get answers for the American people and help ensure nothing like January 6 ever happens again," he added.
Fuentes and Casey are far-right extremists who were both present at Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021.
Their affiliation with the far right is well documented. Both individuals have repeatedly supported claims that President Biden's election victory was not legitimate, and both have "called for the destruction" of the Republican Party.
Crypto enters the fray
On December 8, 2020, a now-deceased French donor donated $500,000 to 22 separate wallets affiliated with far-right extremists, including Fuentes and Casey.
"I care about what happens after my death," wrote the donor in a suicide note dated December 9, 2020. "That's why I decided to leave my modest wealth to certain causes and people."
Fuentes' subpoena letter makes explicit reference to this donation.
"Less than a month before the Capitol attack, you [Fuentes] reportedly received a large donation of Bitcoin, worth more than $250,000, that the FBI is reportedly scrutinizing to assess whether the money was linked to the Capitol attack or otherwise used to fund illegal acts," it reads.
"The Select Committee seeks documents regarding these and other matters that are within the scope of the Select Committee's inquiry," it continued.
The same is true of Casey's subpoena letter.
"You [Casey] reportedly received about $250,000 worth of Bitcoin from a French computer programmer, funds the FBI has reportedly scrutinized to assess whether funds from this donor were linked to the Capitol attack," the letter reads.
According to Chainalysis, other recipients of Bitcoin included the anti-immigration organization VDARE and far-right streamer Ethan Ralph.
The far right's Bitcoin love affair
These two subpoenas are just the latest when it comes to the far right's increasing reliance on Bitcoin as a means of fundraising.
In July 2021, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)—a global anti-money laundering watchdog—published a report documenting a plethora of far-right groups and individuals that have gravitated to Bitcoin.
These include groups like Belgium's Schild and Vrienden, and the Nordic Resistance Movement. Brenton Tarrant—who murdered 51 and injured 40 in the 2019 Christchurch mosque shooting—was also listed in the report.
In September, Andrew Anglin—founder of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer—was found to have received about $5 million worth of Bitcoin since January 2017. Bitcoin became such an important economic lifeline for Anglin that he credited the cryptocurrency for financing The Daily Stormer for four years.
Other examples of Bitcoin financing the far-right include Jaz Searby, a former leader of the far-right group Proud Boys. Searby solicited Bitcoin donations to spread his message to a "generation of young Aryan men."
Just before Christmas, Ron Watkins (many of whom believe to be the "Q" behind the QAnon movement) asked for Bitcoin to help his poorly-financed run for Congress.
"We've had some cancel culture challenges in setting up traditional financing, so I have designed a new innovative solution that uses Bitcoin for fundraising," he said last month.
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