The crypto industry, ready to turn the page on 2023 and all the Sam Bankman-Fried-related drama that came with it, has been funneling tens of millions of dollars into a political war chest to help prop up pro-crypto candidates.
On Monday, a network of political action committees led by the super PAC Fairshake said it was heading into the presidential election year with a staggering $78 million in the bank.
The donations come from crypto companies, including Coinbase, Circle and Kraken, as well as tech investors such as Andreessen Horowitz and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss.
“Fairshake is dedicated to advancing leaders who are poised to champion innovation and navigate the complexities of responsible regulation in the digital age,” the group said in a statement.
The amount of money raised suggests the relatively young crypto industry is maturing into a more politically aligned force with funding that rivals some of the top Super PACs in the country. Earlier this year, the publicly traded crypto platform Coinbase launched the industry’s first independent nonprofit focused on advancing crypto legislation through Congress.
The super PAC money also helps fill a political donation gap created by Bankman-Fried, who spent $36 million on donations to Democratic campaigns and causes in 2022.
Crypto has largely operated on the regulatory fringes in the United States and has been pushing for a framework tailored to digital assets. But the US Securities and Exchange Commission in recent years has taken an openly hostile stance toward the $1 trillion industry.
Crypto advocates are optimistic the tide is beginning to change in Washington.
Over the summer, the House of Representatives advanced several bills related to crypto regulation, though they face an uphill battle in the Senate. Meanwhile, a momentous court ruling in August helped clear a path for the creation of an exchange-traded fund pegged to spot bitcoin prices — a financial instrument that would allow more mainstream investors to invest in the dominant digital currency. Regulators are expected to rule on bitcoin ETF applications in early January.
The political push also reflects the industry’s desire to improve its image, which remains closely associated with the implosion of crypto exchange FTX more than a year ago and the fraud conviction this fall of the firm’s co-founder, Bankman-Fried. Weeks after a jury found Bankman-Fried guilty of stealing customer funds, the CEO of Binance, the world’s largest crypto trading platform, pleaded guilty to federal money-laundering charges in what US officials called the biggest-ever corporate settlement involving criminal charges for an executive.
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