The political action committee backed by cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried has already spent a record-setting amount in the Democratic primary for Oregon’s 6th Congressional District.
But its latest expenditure is the first the PAC has made specifically opposing a rival to Carrick Flynn—or, for that matter, going negative in any of the six congressional races across the country that the Protect Our Future PAC has spent money on.
As of May 13, the PAC was reporting a $813,000 expenditure for an ad targeting Oregon state Rep. Andrea Salinas, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.
A Facebook version of the attack ad attacks her as “a lobbyist for a corporation accused of driving up drug prices.” Salinas disputes that: “Rep. Salinas has never advocated on behalf of any pharmaceutical companies,” says campaign manager Shannon Geison, adding that Salinas passed legislation aimed at lowering drug prices.
It’s one more indication that despite extraordinary expenditures by Bankman-Fried’s PAC, now totaling over $11 million, the race remains close.
The Salinas campaign released results of a poll last week showing that she and Flynn, the candidate Bankman-Fried supports, are the leading candidates in the Democratic primary. She led in that poll but was within the margin of error. Also in the race: state Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon, former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith, Intel engineer Matt West, Dr. Kathleen Harder and Cody Reynolds, a military veteran who has run repeatedly for Congress.
Protect Our Future’s spending is the largest independent expenditure by a super PAC in any U.S. House primary this year. Including the expenditures from two other super PACs, more than $13 million has been spent to try to elect Flynn, who has never before run for office.
Two PACs have made independent expenditures on Salinas’ behalf: CHC BOLD, the PAC for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, has spent nearly $1.5 million, and the League of Conservation Voters Victory Fund has spent just under $200,000 on her behalf.
It remains unclear whether the record-breaking spending will elect Flynn or whether the outside spending will count against Flynn with some voters.
Salinas is attempting to provoke backlash to the spending, including fundraising off the latest negative ads in an email to supporters.
The candidates themselves have spent far less than the independent expenditures, with Salinas spending just over $500,000 as of April 27, and Flynn spending $300,000, according to FEC filings. (The two candidates who have personal fortunes from cryptocurrency have spent more: Reynolds has burned through more than $2 million, and West close to $1 million.)
Notably, Bankman-Fried told Fortune this week he’d lost half his personal fortune in the collapse of the cryptocurrency market since late March.