Hold onto your hats, pals. This is a ride. A former child actor who counts The Mighty Ducks among his acting credits just-so-happens to now be a cryptocurrency billionaire who also just-so-happens to be running a very legitimate campaign for US President. And that, realistically, is only the very start of the story.
Thanks to a suspiciously light-touch puff piece – run initially by the New York Post and the subsequently syndicated in full by News.com.au today – the Presidential bid from Brock Pierce is now seeing significant coverage.
Pierce, for those of you with long enough memories and spectacular facial recognition, first came to public prominence as a child actor; first starring as a young Gordon Bombay in both The Mighty Ducks and D2: The Mighty Ducks, then as the lead role in 1996’s somewhat more inglorious First Kid.
Now, at age 39, Pierce has seemingly amassed a heaving fortune in the world of bitcoin – a February 2018 issue of Forbes placed his net worth at somewhere between USD$700 million (AUD$962 million) and USD$1.1 billion (AUD$1.5 billion).
Not only that, but Pierce is currently running a very legitimate campaign for the US Presidency; one that is relatively well-funded, and is attracting some measure of success. Pierce has already gotten his name onto Presidential ballot papers in 15 US states, with a further 5 being worked on. The strategy for his campaign is to completely upend the traditional two-party system by aggressively targeting a handful of key states, preventing either Donald Trump or Joe Biden from attaining the 270 electoral college votes required to secure the Presidency outright. The plan then asserts that the US House of Representatives would turn to him as a compromise candidate to settle the subsequently divided house. So the story goes.
While that itself may seem far-fetched, it appears Pierce’s ultimate goal is to establish a viable third party in the American political system. “Whether we go left or right, it doesn’t feel like we are making progress or going forward as a country. We need … game-changing change. It is time to upgrade the operating system of America. America 2.0,” Pierce told the NY Post.
Pierce’s campaign even has celebrity backing; Akon, of all people, came on board as the Pierce Campaign’s chief strategist in late August. Of course, that’s a role that Akon will be performing while simultaneously pursuing his Akon City project in Senegal – which in case you need reminding, is a planned utopian city that will be built and run on Akon’s own cryptocurrency imprint, Akoin.
The Pierce campaign itself, on face value, is fairly remarkable. Publicly available campaign materials suggest that Pierce is, on a policy front, pushing a rather progressive agenda. He seemingly stands in favour of an aggressive version of the Green New Deal for the US, promotes the blanket legalisation of cannabis and abolition of for-profit private prisons, wants to implement a Basic Universal Income for every United States citizen, and vows to issue Edward Snowden a US Presidential pardon.
Where things start to get particularly interesting is when looking into Pierce’s career. As you’d expect from any potential Presidential candidate, his Wikipedia page has been scrubbed fairly clean.
Pierce’s rather heaving personal fortune has been amassed through his involvement with a string of cryptocurrency venture capitalist firms, which include Blockchain Capital, Tether, and Block.one. The latter of which raised a record USD$4 billion for its ICO based on the then-proposed software platform EOS.IO.
Notably, Pierce and EOS were profiled by John Oliver as part of a Last Week Tonight segment in 2018 on cryptocurrencies. The segment of Pierce begins in the below video at 18:40 and includes, fairly ominously, a very brief invitation to Google the phrase “Brock Pierce scandal.”
That “scandal” refers to Pierce’s involvement with a company called Digital Entertainment Network, which he joined in 1997 as a 17-year-old. That company’s co-founder was a man by the name of Marc Collins-Rector. Throughout the course of DEN’s rather short life-span, Collins-Rector – it would later be proven – transported teen boys across US state lines for the purposes of having sex with them at lavish parties thrown at the Los Angeles mansion he ran DEN out of.
Collins-Rector was later indicted on criminal charges in 2000, and was subsequently arrested in Spain in 2002 – along with Pierce and fellow DEN founder Chad Shackley. Collins-Rector later returned to the US and pleaded guilty to eight charges of child enticement. He received credit for time served in a Spanish jail and was forced to register as a sex offender.
Things get even wilder when you consider the alleged story of how the trio found themselves in Spain to begin with. Per a BuzzFeed News report from 2014, Pierce stated in a sworn deposition that Collins-Rector believed that David Geffen – the famed Hollywood mogul a key investor in DEN – wanted to destroy him by either taking his business or possibly even killing him.
That lead all three men to hastily load a private jet and take off across the Atlantic Ocean with no destination decided upon before departure.
It should be said that, a decade after the depositions, Pierce radically changed his recounting of the story, telling BuzzFeed News in 2014 that he himself didn’t “really believe” Geffen was out to get anyone, and that “with the benefit of hindsight the idea that Geffen caused the demise of DEN is pretty ludicrous.”
Pierce’s rather complicated – but fundamentally clean, at least from an outcomes perspective – legal history with DEN is detailed in some length by his own legal team on his cryptocurrency website. And it’s worth noting that Pierce was never charged with any wrong doing, and a subsequent lawsuit brought against him was dismissed on the basis of fabricated and fraudulent evidence.
Ultimately, it’s a really wild story. And if things go the way Brock Pierce wants them to come November, it’s really only going to get much wilder from here.