Crypto attorney launches Senate bid against Elizabeth Warren

Crypto attorney launches Senate bid against Elizabeth Warren

BOSTON — A cryptocurrency advocate and attorney is challenging Sen. Elizabeth Warren as a Republican, giving the prominent progressive her first serious — though still long-shot — challenger and setting up an election-season clash over crypto.

John Deaton, a Detroit native, launched his Senate campaign on Tuesday “to continue my life’s mission to shake things up for the people who need it most,” he said in a video announcing his bid.

Deaton moved to Massachusetts last month to take on Warren, a Democrat and Congress’ loudest crypto critic.

“Elizabeth Warren, well she promised to be a champion for those in need. Instead, she gives lectures and plays politics and gets nothing done for Massachusetts,” Deaton said in the video.

Warren, meanwhile, released a report Tuesday morning detailing the more $50 billion in funding she’s brought to Massachusetts since taking office in 2013.

“Senator Warren’s record of fighting for key priorities for Massachusetts families has paid huge dividends,” the report says. “It has resulted in critical federal support for infrastructure and broadband, basic research, a cleaner environment, and dozens of projects to support workers, families, and communities in the Commonwealth.”

Deaton is a dad to three daughters, a testicular cancer survivor and a former Marine who opened a law firm in Rhode Island representing asbestos victims. He’s renting a house in Swansea that is now his primary and full-time residence, and is selling his Barrington, Rhode Island, home for $2.5 million, according to real-estate listings and Jim Conroy, a political adviser to former Gov. Charlie Baker who is consulting for Deaton. He also plans to loan his campaign $500,000 to start, POLITICO first reported.

In his 314-page memoir, “Food Stamp Warrior,” Deaton details his childhood in a rough Detroit enclave. He writes that he was raped, had a gun pressed into his mouth on the first day of high school and sold pot in exchange for food stamps for his family.

He also may have shot someone — and to this day, he writes, he doesn’t know if he did. In Deaton’s telling, his close friend was killed in a drug-related drive-by shooting. As he was dying, Deaton, then 17, took his friend’s gun and opened fire: “I kept squeezing the trigger, as bullets shot through the car and blasted the back window into shards. I saw a person in the back slump down, and I’m still not sure if it’s because I hit him or if he ducked.”

Deaton writes that years later, “I couldn’t stop asking myself: Did he kill my friend, did he get hit with a bullet, did he live or die?

After going through a divorce, Deaton “went on a coke-fueled sex bender,” according to the memoir. Using sites like “Plenty of Fish” and “Sugar Daddy” to find partners, Deaton says he would search for “women in their mid-twenties, decades younger than me.”

He met his current partner, Kristiana, when he hired her as an assistant at his law firm. “Within a couple of years of Kristi working for me,” they struck up a romance. They’ve been together for almost nine years and share a 5-year-old daughter.

After being prescribed opioids following a back surgery, Deaton says he “periodically battled dependency on pain pills.”

Part of what helped pull Deaton out of a self-described “mid-life crisis” was discovering crypto — and the online community of digital-asset enthusiasts that comes with it. Deaton, who has invested in Bitcoin, Ethereum and XRP, gained notoriety in the crypto world when he battled the SEC’s efforts to classify XRP as a security as part of a lawsuit against Ripple Labs.

Crypto, Deaton says in the book, is “a story, one much like my own: it is a story of survival and evolution, not just for the few but for the many.”

Though he is running as a Republican, it’s unclear whether Deaton will embrace Donald Trump, his party’s standard bearer and likely 2024 presidential nominee.. In his book, Deaton references former Trump — but only to draw contrast with him.

“I’ve always believed that money should never define someone. If anything, I’m the antithesis of Donald Trump,” Deaton writes. “You’ll never catch me being flashy or anything like that.”

This story first appeared in Massachusetts Playbook.

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Author: By Lisa Kashinsky and Kelly Garrity