Coinbase Donates $25 Million to Fairshake to Defeat 'Anti-Crypto Candidates'

Coinbase, America’s dominant crypto exchange, announced Monday that it has donated an additional $25 million to industry political action committee (PAC) Fairshake in the latest escalation of crypto-related spending on the 2024 election. 

That spend brings Fairshake’s total haul this cycle to $160 million, making it one of the largest PACs attempting to influence the outcome of November’s election. 

In fact, only ActBlue and WinRed—the primary payment processors for the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively—show larger hauls this cycle, according to OpenSecrets.

Coinbase’s latest $25 million gift to Fairshake follows that of fellow American crypto corporations Ripple and Andreessen Horowitz, which both made matching donations last week. The three companies were the principal initial bankrollers of Fairshake, which launched late last year as a means to support pro-crypto candidates in federal elections.

Paired with last week’s contributions, today’s donation has nearly doubled the size of Fairshake’s war chest in a matter of days. They also come at a particularly lively political moment for crypto, in which presidential candidates and federal legislators alike have focused near-unprecedented attention on the industry, both positive and negative. 

On May 22, the U.S. House of Representatives passed FIT 21, a regulatory framework for the crypto industry. The landmark vote came just days after an unexpectedly large contingent of Democratic senators broke with President Joe Biden to support the repeal of SAB 121, an anti-crypto rule instituted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). 

On Friday, Biden vetoed the SAB 121 repeal, underscoring crypto-related tensions not just in national politics, but within his own party.

The recent upswing of crypto-related movement in Washington appears to have emboldened companies like Coinbase, which seek to turn crypto into a key election year issue, and have threatened to unload millions of dollars against the campaigns of vocal—or perceived—anti-crypto candidates.

The best way to get regulatory clarity in democratic countries is to elect pro-crypto candidates on both sides of the aisle, and to vote anti-crypto candidates out of office,” Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said in a blunt statement announcing the Fairshake donation today. 

For a brief period last month, it seemed as if crypto was careening towards partisan issue status, with former president Donald Trump appearing to embrace the industry explicitly, and Biden indicating his displeasure with pro-crypto legislation. 

In recent months, political chatter within the crypto industry has taken a markedly pro-Trump shift. The former U.S. president and presumptive Republican nominee for 2024 has openly embraced cryptocurrency in recent weeks, including opening up crypto donations towards his campaign.

Coinbase’s CEO attempted to emphasize Monday that his company’s willingness to assert political influence—an impulse other American crypto firms have resisted—does not mean the industry is choosing one political party over another. 

“This must be a bipartisan effort,” Armstrong wrote. “Crypto is truly a bipartisan issue.”

Fairshake, however, has so far overwhelmingly focused its efforts on targeting liberal political candidates it perceives as anti-crypto. Of the $11.3 million the PAC has already spent on the 2024 election, 93.8% of that money has gone either against Democrats or towards Republicans, per OpenSecrets.

Edited by Andrew Hayward

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