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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A group of Democratic operatives plans to turn political memorabilia and photos into NFTs, looking to raise money by minting — and then selling — digital assets beyond the sports and entertainment arenas.

Why it matters: With both conservative and liberal groups already spending millions to pressure lawmakers over President Biden's social safety net expansion, Democrats are looking to tap into non-fungible tokens to outraise their opponents.

Driving the news: On Monday, a new group, Front Row, will launch a political NFT marketplace — and only allow Democratic campaigns and causes to use it.

  • The first NFTs for sale will be digital collectibles from the Texas Democratic Party.
  • For example, for $250, a political activist can purchase a digital "Wanted" poster, with animation, of different Texas lawmakers who fled the state this year in a failed effort to block its new restrictive voting law.

Flashback: In August, Scott Jensen, a Republican candidate for governor in Minnesota, released two NFTs to raise money for his 2022 campaign.

  • He claimed to be the first politician to offer an NFT.
  • Sports and entertainment stars were early adopters of the trend, with Tom Brady and Tiger Woods the latest to cash in.

How it works: A political organization or campaign will create an NFT, establish the number of tokens and then set the price.

  • Buyers will purchase the NFT through the Front Row website, much like a traditional donor would donate to a campaign through the Act Blue website.
  • The donor — or more accurately, the purchaser — would then own the NFT.
  • The proceeds will go to the campaign, with Front Row taking a transaction fee.
  • The sales will have to conform to campaign finance laws. Federal candidates will be limited to selling NFTs for $5,800 — the maximum per-cycle contribution — while PACs and party committees can up their prices accordingly.

The big picture: The first-ever NFT, artist Kevin McCoy's "Quantum," was auctioned off for $1.47 million in January.

  • The NFT market has since exploded, with trading volume rising to $10.67 billion, according to CNBC.

Go deeper: While NFTs mostly use blockchain technology, they don’t need to be purchased with cryptocurrency.

  • The National Republican Congressional Committee has tried to tap into the crypto craze by announcing it would start accepting contributions in cryptocurrency, Axios reported in June.

Go deeper

House Dems outraise GOP by $10 million in third quarter

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in the Capitol in January. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $35.8 million in the third quarter, surpassing the National Republican Congressional Committee's haul of $25.8 million.

Why it matters: With just over a year until the 2022 midterms, and the lingering threat of redistricting in several House races, the amount each party's campaign can raise will be crucial to their success.

UNC race conscious admissions process upheld by judge

Students walk through the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Aug. 18, 2020 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill can continue its race conscious admissions process, a federal judge ruled on Monday.

Why it matters: The case could end up in the Supreme Court after the conservative nonprofit Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) vowed to appeal the judge's ruling that UNC didn't discriminate against against white and Asian American applicants in its policy that it said was designed to increase diversity.

SEC debunks conspiracy theories about meme stock mania

Photo: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The SEC issued its long-awaited report on the meme stock mania, which downplayed the narrative that a "short squeeze" was the primary driver behind GameStop's historic stock moves — and shot down conspiracy theories about the event.

Why it matters: The postmortem was highly anticipated, largely because of what it could hint about what the regulator thinks should be done in wake of the saga. But the report stopped short of specific policy recommendations.