Can you imagine someone accused of murder, rape, drug manufacturing and dating teen-aged girls running for president? Sounds crazy, but this hasn’t stopped John McAfee from giving it a go.
Cybersecurity expert John McAfee took to Twitter recently to announce his candidature for the 2020 American presidential elections. This comes after a failed run in 2016 for the Libertarian Party.
Founder of the computer virus software of the same name, McAfee is a well-known yet divisive figure in the crypto community. While he is widely-regarded as a security genius, McAfee can also be an abrasive character with a tendency towards paranoia and a habit of stirring up controversy.
Case in point, the 73 year old was accused of murder, rape and unlicensed drug manufacturing, and recently admitted to dating teen-aged girls.
But love him or hate him, you’ve probably heard of him. McAfee’s notorious reputation precedes him, and that’s just he way he likes it as he goes from one publicity stunt to the next.
In fact, he has no plans to win this race. He hopes instead to raise awareness about blockchain and cryptocurrency, writing that “if we accept the Blockchain as our guiding light, our hearts and our minds can be free.”
My POTUS run can spark a free people. But our hearts must first be free. We can only create what we are. An angry people cannot create peace. A hateful people can build no loving structure. If we accept the Blockchain as our guiding light, our hearts and our minds can be free.
— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) October 11, 2018
As the American presidential race heats up, the world waits to see who will be the next leader of the free world. Read on as Bitcoin Australia explores the complex past of this black sheep candidate.
Not His First Rodeo
In 2015, John McAfee burst onto the political scene as a candidate for the Cyber Party before becoming a Libertarian Party member.
McAfee’s campaign was unique from the get-go. Fearing for his life after events in Belize, the McAfee team arranged a purely electronic presidential bid that saw the candidate safely ensconced in his Tennessee home.
This did not prevent John McAfee from meeting with voters. He regularly interacted with hundreds of thousands on Twitter and shared opinions on everything from whiskey to women.
It’s a Twitter presence similar to that of his Republican Party rival, Donald Trump.
But that is where any similarities to other candidates ends. Embodying the ideology of crypto, McAfee promoted himself as a free and genuine person, and publicly admitted flaws most politicians wouldn’t dare.
In a campaign video, he says as much. “I think the difference between myself and every other contender in every other party is that I have no shame.”
Yes, I’ve been in jail. Yes I’ve taken drugs. Everything that I have done, I own.
— John McAfee, 2015
McAfee remains unapologetic about his colourful life, although some within the Libertarian Party have since sought to distance themselves from him, as a recent Twitter post shows.
A Libertarian opponent from my 2016 POTUS run has stated that my multiple jail terms, allegations of murder, rape, drug manufacture, perverted sexuality etc, should disqualify me from the Libertarian platform in 2020. I'm confused. Have these qualities suddenly become bad things?
— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) October 24, 2018
A Controversial Past
McAfee’s presidential ambition is not the only thing putting him in the limelight. The self-declared inventor of cybersecurity has previously been accused of murder by Belizean authorities.
The claim levied against McAfee stems from a brief stint in Belize which ended when the American fled the country in 2012.
In a 2015 interview for NewsWeek, McAfee explained he had been pressured into paying $2 billion to the Belizean government. When he refused, a local gang came after him and his family. The situation escalated further, with the government accusing McAfee of killing his neighbour Greg Faull — a claim he calls “fraudulent”.
Some believe McAfee was also running from rape allegations put forward by one-time business partner Allison Adonizio. The two had previously launched the unsuccessful pharmaceutical venture, QuorumEx.
Adonizio never formally pressed charges against McAfee. She appeared on Showtime’s documentary Gringo: the dangerous life of John McAfee to describe the encounter.
“He brought me two pills and a glass of orange juice,” Adonizio told reporter Nanette Bernstein. “I woke up dizzy and [John McAfee] was standing over me, naked.”
McAfee and his supporters now allege Bernstein and co-producer Jeff Wise were paying for interviews, and coercing people into giving false testimony.
Like many things involving John McAfee, nobody seems to know what really happened.
Haters Gonna Hate
In the face of these allegations, it’s no surprise John McAfee has picked up a few opponents along the way.
On Twitter, computer security developer Dr. Vesselin Bontchev is an outspoken critic of McAfee. The doctor’s handle @VessonSecurity recently wrote a thread attacking him, which has since gone viral.
In the mid-90s John was kicked out of McAfee Associates (or he resigned, depending on who you ask), the company threw away his shitty product and bought Dr. Solomon’s Anti-Virus Toolkit – one of the best anti-virus products in the world at the time.
End of story.
— Vess (@VessOnSecurity) September 3, 2018
(In fairness, McAfee thinks the software carrying his name is pretty bad too. The cybersecurity expert posted a video to Youtube in 2013 where he shows viewers now to uninstall McAfee Anti-Virus.)
You need only skim the comments of McAfee’s Youtube videos to understand why some people can’t stand the man. He’s described as ‘obnoxious’, ‘idiotic’ and ‘insane’ among other things.
However, the eccentric McAfee has also attracted a large group of supporters who identify with his libertarian and anti-establishment values. When the murder charges resurfaced following his 2020 presidential campaign launch, McAfee’s loyal twitter followers were quick to offer reassurances.
You have much to be proud of regardless of what haters throw at you.
For what it’s worth I’ve always asked your critics who come at me when I try to sell your campaign to keep an open mind and proud to say I’ve converted a few or at least they give benefit of the doubt now
— Ed Dilliard (@dilliard_ed) October 24, 2018
McAfee’s fans are fighting an uphill battle when compared with supporters of mainstream candidates, but their passion is clear. And like McAfee, they aren’t going anywhere.
As the presidential race heats up it’s anyone’s guess what John McAfee will do next, and Bitcoin Australia will be keeping a close eye on this pro-crypto candidate.
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Liz is a Canadian journalist and writer for Bitcoin Australia. Connect with her on Twitter @Elizabeth_Utley, or on Linkedin as Elizabeth Utley.