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Coinbase CEO Armstrong Pledges $1M for Crypto President: “People Need to Win or Lose Because of Their Stance on Crypto”

Published September 22, 2023 2:11 PM
James Morales
Published September 22, 2023 2:11 PM
Key Takeaways
  • Brian Armstrong has pledged to donate $1M to a super PAC that advocates for the US crypto sector.
  • In the run-up to next year’s elections, crypto policy is emerging as a dividing line in both parties.
  • Last year, crypto-focused super PACs spent tens of millions of dollars financing Republican and Democratic candidates.

Crypto has rarely taken center stage in American politics, despite how pressing the question of US crypto regulation may be to insiders. But Coinbase CEO, Brian Armstrong, has said it should be a major issue in the 2024 presidential election.

Speaking in New York on Thursday, September 21, Armstrong even said he would contribute $1M to a pro-crypto super PAC.

Coinbase CEO Pledges $1M to Fund Crypto Advocacy

During a discussion with Messari CEO Ryan Selkis at the Messari Mainnet crypto conference, Armstrong had some strong words for next year’s US presidential candidates.

“In 2024 some people need to win or lose an election because of their stance on crypto,” he said.

In a post on X, Messari said that Armstrong has also pledged $1M to a crypto super PAC (political action committee), although it didn’t identify a specific organization.

Meanwhile, an attendant at the event quoted him as stating that “The Biden Administration has been really terrible for crypto.”

Presidential Candidates Court American Crypto Sector

Although Armstrong hasn’t publicly stated his support for any US presidential candidate, prospective nominees in both parties have attempted to gain support from the US crypto sector.

Also speaking at the Messari event on Wednesday, September 20, Republican candidate Vivek Ramaswamy blasted regulatory agencies as a “cancer at the heart of our federal government.” 

If he wins the presidency, Ramaswamy said he would reign in the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). He also announced plans to publish a new crypto policy framework next month.

Meanwhile, Robert Kennedy Jr. has made crypto advocacy a key pillar of his attempt to with the Democratic nomination.

Could Crypto Funding Influence the 2024 Elections?

In August, Coinbase  launched  the “Stand with Crypto Alliance,” which it described as an “independent and on-chain advocacy organization.”

Upon inauguration, Stand with Crypto raised $215,000 minting NFTs. On its website, the organization lists Armstrong as its foremost donor thanks to a $9,963.47 donation.

Moreover, in recent days, the Coinbase CEO has been increasingly vocal in his endorsement of the alliance, sharing a post encouraging Americans to lobby their congressional representatives. 

At the moment, there has been no public statement identifying Stand with Crypto as the Super PAC referenced by Messari’s tweet. However, the organization has been clear all along that it intends to fund political campaigns, and will use donations for electioneering purposes.

Crypto Super PACs Target Both Parties

Ultimately, for industry stakeholders like Brian Armstrong, the more closely contested race for the Republican presidential nomination is likely to be of far more interest than Kennedy’s longshot bid for the presidency.

Nonetheless, away from the Whitehouse, winning Democrat support will be critical in advancing their interests. And in the House of Representatives,  candidates with a wide spectrum of positions on crypto policy are running for both parties next November.

In the 2022 election cycle, crypto super PACs sponsored both Democratic and Republican candidates for the US Senate.

For example, one of the largest, GMI PAC, spent over 11M in the run-up to the November elections funding Web3 Forward and Crypto Innovation. The former financed Democratic candidates, while the latter focused on supporting pro-crypto and Republicans.

For crypto advocates like Armstrong, financing candidates on both sides of the aisle is a good way to maximize the chances of gaining majority support for pro-crypto legislation.

In fact, last year, crypto billionaires plowed huge sums into cross-party US political fundraising. 

For example, Sam Bankman-Fried became GMI’s largest single donor after he wrote  the PAC a $2M check in September. Meanwhile, the organization also reportedly  received contributions from fellow FTX CEO Ryan Salame.

Earlier this month, Salame pleaded guilty to charges of making illegal campaign donations on behalf of FTX.

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