The Bitcoin Foundation was founded in 2013 by a diverse group riding the first crypto boom. The group raised a few million dollars and appeared before a Senate committee in its brief existence. Soon later, Bitcoin dropped below $300, and the foundation fell in disgrace in 2015. Since few Washington, D.C. residents understood crypto, few noticed.
How times change. On Wednesday, pro-crypto super PAC Fairshake and its affiliates said they will spend over $85 million in 2024. That sum exceeds the NRA and Everytown for Gun Safety's totals this cycle. Crypto in Washington has gone from “Who?” to a major player with the money and capacity to influence policymakers in less than a decade.
How the crypto business will utilize its money and power is the question. Its PAC is funding TV commercials and running on-the-ground campaigns to elect pro-crypto candidates nationwide. That's a usual script, but the question is which candidates will receive a piece of that $85 million—and if anybody, no matter how insane or unethical, can get a piece if they like crypto.
Consider Vivek Ramaswamy. The former Harvard “section guy” became a populist Republican presidential candidate and is popular in the cyber community for promoting Bitcoin. He supported the Taylor Swift conspiracy on Twitter this week. The one where Swift and her boyfriend, Travis Kelce, are part of a Pentagon-George Soros scheme to manipulate the Super Bowl in favor of the Chiefs to undermine Donald Trump's election prospects.
Attacking the nation's most famous artist and her all-American romance with a football hero is political malpractice, regardless of how absurd this is. You may determine if a white liberal who lies about being Cherokee for political gain should stay in government. Most politicians say or do dumb things. With Ramaswamy, it's ongoing. He rolls that way. Just months ago, he said 9/11 was an inside job.
Why do crypto industry leaders support unscrupulous Ramaswamy, who harms American democracy? I've wondered for years if the crypto community wants an open and democratic financial system or just an alt-right subculture. You may think I'm kidding, but Mario Nawfal, presenter of one of crypto's most famous podcasts, just invited Alex Jones, who terrorized the grieving parents of murdered 6-year-olds.
The fact that top crypto personalities associate with ugly demagogues raises the issue of whether they support America or only the sector that made them rich. I asked Fairshake PAC spokesperson Josh Vlasto if a pro-crypto candidate could do or say anything to stop funding. He said that the PAC will choose candidates "based on several factors" independently. Candidates that wish to retain Web3 innovation and employment in America will be supported.
Not reassuring. Brian Armstrong of Coinbase and the Winklevoss twins, who provided cheques for the PAC, may offer advice. Otherwise, this new political effort would reinforce most of America's worst crypto biases and burn $85 million spectacularly.