This week, a coalition of prominent crypto industry leaders and investors announced the launch of a new super political action committee (PAC) called Fairshake, which has already raised $78 million to back political candidates who support crypto innovation and regulation in the 2024 elections.
For an industry accustomed to operating outside the political establishment, this represents an unprecedented mobilization of financial firepower intended to buy influence in Washington.
Powerhouses like Coinbase, Andreessen Horowitz, Ripple and the Winklevoss twins are leading the charge. According to Fairshake’s founder, the PAC aims “to advance leaders who are poised to champion innovation and navigate the complexities of responsible regulation in the digital age”.
The PAC has already received support from the likes of Ripple, Circle, Messari and Kraken.
In the eyes of crypto critics like Senator Elizabeth Warren, Fairshake simply wants to flood key races with money to elect pro-crypto politicians. A sceptical observer might see this as a game that has been playing in American politics for years with other issues.
Up until now, the crypto industry has faced huge regulatory headwinds from agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which initiated high-profile lawsuits against firms like Kraken , Binance and Coinbase this past year.
Some crypto leaders feel the crackdown has more to do with protecting the turf of big banks than protecting investors. The Fairshake PAC intends to change this dynamic by shaping the crypto views of members of Congress.
In August of this year, Coinbase launched its Stand With Crypto Alliance , the first large-scale international campaign to get crypto a hearing in the halls of power. Earlier this month, the political project launched a subsidiary in the UK.
Who exactly are the pro-crypto politicians Fairshake will support? So far, according to Stand With Crypto’s rankings, the most vocal legislative champions of crypto mostly hail from the Republican party, with lawmakers like Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Patrick McHenry (R-NC). McHenry, who briefly served as interim Speaker of the House this year, has said he will not seek reelection for another term.
Pro-crypto candidates on the Democratic side include Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Darren Soto (D-FL), and Ritchie Torres (D-NY).
On the national stage, Presidential candidates Vivek Ramaswamy (R) and Ron DeSantis are both given an ‘A’ grade, while former President Donald Trump receives a middling ‘C’ grade. Current President Joe Biden, who has been highly critical of the industry, gets a ‘D’.
However, crypto leaders insist this is not a partisan issue, but is rather about supporting candidates from both parties who want balanced crypto regulation.
PACs (or ‘political action committees’) have been around since the 1940s, but really grew in influence after the landmark 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United decision allowing them to raise and spend unlimited sums.
Today, PACs are the power players driving the political money game. While they can’t donate directly to parties or candidates, they run blistering ad campaigns and mobilize donors. By marshaling industry resources into the well-funded Fairshake PAC, crypto finally has a seat at the big-money table to play politics with the big beasts in Washington. 2024 will show if this buys crypto the influence it seeks.