the money game

Crypto Billionaire’s Possible Senate Run May Blow Up His Tax Shelter

Brock Pierce wants to represent you (if you happen to live in Vermont). Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Brock Pierce is a lot of things: an apparent crypto billionaire, a co-founder of the controversial stablecoin tether, a former child actor, a confidante of Eric Adams, a “regular lecturer” at an unaccredited, for-profit Silicon Valley university mired in sexual-harassment claims whose early members went to prison for credit-card fraud. He’s also exploring a run for Senate in Vermont this November as an independent in a bid to take over the soon-to-be-vacated seat from Patrick Leahy.

But there’s just one problem — it’s not really clear where he lives. Now, he’s facing the prospect of pulling a Nick Kristof for falling short of residency requirements in Vermont or giving up a lot of money in back taxes to say that Puerto Rico, where he’s tried to remake the island into a crypto utopia, is not his home.

According to, Pierce is in a bind about his residency. Last year, he declared in a Federal Election Commission form that he was intending to run for Senate in the Green Mountain State — which requires that candidates spend 183 days out of the year in Vermont. In January, he bought a $2.3 million mansion in Vermont, the site reported. But Puerto Rico also has a 183-day requirement for people who want to take advantage of its $0 tax policies, which — let’s get out our calculators here, beep boop zzzrt — means that he can’t be a resident of both.

A crypto billionaire with a potentially huge tax bill is an interesting issue for the government of Puerto Rico, which recently emerged from bankruptcy and has struggled to pay off its debts after Hurricane Maria and the COVID pandemic. Manuel Cidre, the head of Puerto Rico’s economics and commerce department, said he was looking into Pierce’s residency and noted that any incorrect statements about residency on federal forms could be a federal crime.

To be clear, it’s not certain that Pierce is going to run for Senate. I reached out to Pierce directly, but he didn’t email me back. His campaign manager wouldn’t divulge anything about Pierce’s residency to VTDigger. Pierce said in January that he would decide by March, but that deadline came and went. He’s played footsie with Steve Bannon about a run — he and Bannon knew each other back in the mid-aughts, when he was running a company that helped people cheat at video games — but his most recent FEC filings show that his political spending has gone to a former adviser to Dominique Strauss-Kahn and a firm that was behind Gil Cisneros’s losing 2020 bid for a House seat.

On his Twitter account, Pierce has posted a few pictures of himself in Vermont, snowboarding in the winter, strolling in town, talking with as many as eight people who showed up to an event. But there are also pictures of him in Panama, Washington, D.C., and New York — so who knows? So far, we are only 160 days into 2022, so Pierce still has a few weeks to figure out where he wants to reside.

Crypto Billionaire’s Senate Run May Blow Up His Tax Shelter