Several of the world’s largest cryptocurrency firms have organized a political war chest of more than $160 million they plan to deploy this year in support of candidates who favor “light touch” industry regulations — and Republicans stand to benefit most, experts tell The Post.

Cryptocurrency companies’ spending on lobbying and government relations hit a new high of $24.7 million in 2023, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Another $5.6 million has already been spent in 2024’s first quarter — a sum expected to more than quintuple by November. 

The two largest spenders are Coinbase, a popular crypto-exchange platform, and the Blockchain Association, a nonprofit that lobbies legislators at both the state and federal levels.

Many of the world’s largest cryptocurrency firms have organized a political war chest.
Many of the world’s largest cryptocurrency firms have organized a political war chest. REUTERS

A campaign fund of this size makes crypto one of the most influential players this election cycle. 

Former President Donald “Trump’s acceptance and embrace of crypto is in stark contrast with the overwhelmingly regressive approach to crypto taken by the Biden administration and the wider Democratic Party, which has constantly attacked the industry, in most cases unfairly,” Edward Wilson, an analyst at the blockchain company Nansen, told The Post.

“It is likely that the issue of crypto will influence and may even swing the election. That’s because many US-based crypto supporters place crypto as a key issue for them and are fed up with the approach of going after good actors in the space, like Coinbase and Uniswap, while also preventing access to products and airdrops, while other countries thrive, taking the industry offshore with them. Based on this, it is likely that the Republicans will receive significantly more in crypto donations — but how much is hard to determine — than the Democrats.”

That may be extremely bad news for Democrats like Ohio incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown, who have repeatedly challenged the ethics and efficacy of both crypto companies and cryptocurrencies in general. (Brown’s campaign did not respond to The Post’s request for comment.)

“Our Founding Fathers would have been bitcoiners,” said Brown’s Republican opponent, Ohio businessman Bernie Moreno. “They believed in decentralization of power and control. That’s what this is. [Brown] laughed at it, but I take it very seriously.”

Moreno previously owned a blockchain company of his own and says Ohio has “many” crypto “farmers” their government should consider as well.

“Crypto represents freedom, and philosophically, what legislators like Brown and the Democrats believe is that they should have control,” Moreno told The Post. “They’d prefer to have control over schools, jobs and of course currency. . . . They hate crypto in their heart of hearts because they want to be in control. We disagree.”

“Our Founding Fathers would have been bitcoiners,” Bernie Moreno claimed.
“Our Founding Fathers would have been bitcoiners,” Bernie Moreno claimed. AP

When asked if Democrats could reverse course and find more crypto-industry support before the polls open, Moreno was not optimistic.

“The energy of the Democratic Party is controlled by the extremists like Brown and Elizabeth Warren,” Moreno said. “Word is out to the industry that if they’re given four or more years of control, crypto in America is completely dead.”

But not everyone is convinced crypto will be able to spend its way to political dominance in America.

“The cryptocurrency industry has become much more involved in politics just in the last few years, from lobbying efforts to campaign donations,” said University of Dayton political scientist Christopher Devine . “But it’s not clear whether crypto will succeed in influencing elections throughout the country or in close races involving powerful members of Congress such as Sherrod Brown’s battle for re-election in Ohio.”

One thing that may slow them down, according to Devine, is a lack of focus.

“It’s worth noting that the cryptocurrency industry donated about equally to both parties in 2022,” he told The Post. “Its goals are not particularly partisan or ideological. They want to curry favor with whichever candidate is most likely to win a seat in the next Congress and potentially be able to vote on legislation affecting their industry.”

Jason Allegrante, chief legal and compliance officer of the crypto company Fireblocks, agrees — to a point.

“Blockchain is first and foremost a technology — and the development of this technology transcends political party. What’s remarkable about the industry’s positioning in this election cycle is that it will continue to prioritize the cause of innovation first and foremost even as it wades back into electoral politics. Republicans may benefit more this November simply because many already seem to understand the issues. But all candidates regardless of party will have the opportunity to stand with crypto or test an anti-crypto position with the American electorate,” he told The Post.

Right now, the industry seems to be determining whether men like Brown and Moreno are the outliers of their parties when it comes to crypto or the exemplars. Simply put: It wants to make friends. 

And the GOP is looking mighty friendly.

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