A single benefactor made cryptocurrency donations worth more than $216,000 to extremists and hate groups between September 2021 and April 2022, according to an analysis provided to Hatewatch by the SPLC’s Data Lab.
The single biggest beneficiary was antigovernment extremist Ammon Bundy’s People’s Rights Network (PRN), which received transfers worth $93,000.
Hatewatch was first alerted to the cryptocurrency donations to PRN by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights.
The donations continue a pattern of anonymous big-money benefactors using cryptocurrency to conceal their identities and avoid accountability for funding extremists. Hatewatch has previously reported on similar donations including over $8 million donated to conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
Donor covers tracks
The mystery donor concealed the original source of the donations by using Tornado Cash, a so-called “mixer” service that disguises the origins of cryptocurrency transfers. Tornado Cash has since been sanctioned by the U.S. government due to its use in money-laundering, including by hackers sponsored by the North Korean regime.
From Tornado Cash, the donor transferred Ethereum to three cryptocurrency addresses, which were then used to funnel the digital coins to extremists.
Just over 99 Ethereum coins worth $314,000 were sent from Tornado Cash to a cryptocurrency address of unknown ownership on Jan. 10, 2022.
PRN’s big payday
Also on Jan. 10, 2022, PRN received a 20-coin donation from that address, and a five-coin donation on Jan. 29. Together those amounts were worth over $66,694 when they were sent.
The first account also transferred on Jan. 10, 2022:
- A five-coin donation to VDARE, worth $15,754 at that time.
- A five-coin donation to white nationalist broadcaster Red Ice worth $3,150.
- A one-coin donation to Infowars.
On April 15, 2022, the donor transferred some 36 Ethereum coins from the first address to a second one. These were worth around $110,000 at that time.
Five days later, on April 20, 2022, this second account sent PRN a donation of five Ethereum coins, worth $15,512 at the time.
Then, between 11:56 p.m. and midnight Greenwich Mean Time on April 20, that same account sent matching five-coin donations to VDARE, American Renaissance, Red Ice and Infowars.
April 20 is a date of complex significance on the far right and in extremist subcultures. As well as being Adolf Hitler’s birthday, it marks the anniversary of the Columbine High School mass shooting, which took place in 1999.
The preceding date, April 19, marks the anniversary of both the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City by antigovernment extremist Timothy McVeigh, and the conclusion of the Waco, Texas, siege in 1993, one of the events McVeigh claimed to be responding to.
On Aug. 13, 2021, the donor transferred 10 Ethereum from Tornado Cash, the cryptocurrency mixer, to a third account. The coins were worth just over $30,000 at that time.
Extremists cash in
People’s Rights Network received Ethereum coins worth $10,819 in three one-coin donations from the third crypto address on Aug. 13, 2021, Sept. 24, 2021, and Nov. 8, 2021.
The donor used the same address to send three one-coin donations to VDARE on the same dates.
The third address was also used by the donor to send:
- Two 0.5-coin donations, worth $3,885 at the time, to Slightly Offensive, a far-right podcast hosted by Elijah Schaeffer. Schaeffer was fired in October 2022 from Glenn Beck’s media company The Blaze for allegedly groping a co-worker.
- One-coin and 0.25-coin donations to American Renaissance, worth a total of $4,201 when they were sent in August and November 2021.
- A one-coin donation to white nationalist hate group Defend Evropa, which was worth $3,047 when it was sent in August 2021.
- A 0.25-coin donation to the far-right Idaho Freedom Foundation, worth $1,154 when it was sent in November 2021.
- A 0.02-coin donation to Infowars, worth just over $920 in November 2021.
Between August 2021 and April 2022, Ammon Bundy’s PRN received donations from all three accounts, as did VDARE, Infowars and American Renaissance.
Red Ice received donations from the first and second accounts, while Defend Evropa, Idaho Freedom Foundation and Slightly Offensive only received donations from the third account.
An Idaho hospital, St. Luke’s Meridian Medical Center, is suing Bundy for defamation over his accusations that the hospital forcibly vaccinated the grandchild of a member of his People’s Rights Network.
A lawyer for St. Luke’s has reportedly described Bundy as a “grifter” and expressed interest in his sources of income.
Photo illustration by SPLC