Ripple pumps additional $25 million into pro-crypto super PAC

The cryptocurrency company Ripple announced a $25 million donation to the Fairshake super PAC on Wednesday as part of an industrywide push to promote pro-crypto policies and politicians at a pivotal moment.

Last December, Ripple poured $20 million into Fairshake, which has already spent $11.3 million in federal elections. The wave of donations marks a significant escalation of Ripple’s political engagement. Ripple donated just $500,000 during the 2022 election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) data.

“Ripple will not — and the crypto industry should not — keep quiet while unelected regulators actively seek to impede innovation and economic growth that millions of Americans utilize,” Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse said.

Fairshake reported more than $52.2 million cash on hand as of April 30, a sizable war chest heading into the thick of the 2024 election.

More than $10 million of the super PAC’s spending to date went toward opposing a Senate bid by Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.). Porter, who lost her Democratic Senate primary bid in March, is “strongly against crypto” according to Stand With Crypto, a 501(c)4 nonprofit that another crypto giant Coinbase helped launch last summer.

Coinbase is another top donor to Fairshake along with venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, asset manager ARK Invest and the crypto-focused investment firm Paradigm Operations. The crypto community has publicly scrapped with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in recent years, suing Ripple and Coinbase over alleged violations of federal securities law.

But the House last week voted to pass the Financial Innovation and Technology for the 21st Century Act (FIT 21), sweeping crypto regulation that would categorize most digital assets as a “commodity” regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Only specific digital assets would be regulated as a “security” by the SEC under the bill, which has not yet passed the upper chamber.

SEC Chair Gary Gensler opposed the bill, saying it “would create new regulatory gaps and undermine decades of precedent.”

“The crypto industry’s record of failures, frauds, and bankruptcies is not because we don’t have rules or because the rules are unclear,” the SEC chair said ahead of the House vote. “It’s because many players in the crypto industry don’t play by the rules.” 

Perhaps one of the biggest scandals that racked the industry was the downfall of disgraced crypto mogul Sam Bankman-Fried, who became the public face of crypto in politics in the lead-up to the 2022 midterms. He publicly donated more than $40.7 million to groups primarily supporting Democratic candidates, making him the seventh-biggest donor that cycle, according to the money in politics research group OpenSecrets, although he has since admitted to funneling “dark” contributions to groups supporting Republicans that are not included in that total.

The crypto industry swiftly distanced itself from Bankman-Fried after his exchange platform FTX collapsed days after the midterm election. He has since been sentenced to 25 years in prison for federal fraud and conspiracy charges related to his role in the collapse.

The wider crypto industry has stepped up its political engagement as well, spending millions on lobbying on bills including FIT21 in addition to its political contributions. Garlinghouse said that the “crypto industry intends to remain heavily invested in this effort until we see meaningful change.”

Ripple called the 2024 elections “the most consequential in crypto’s history.”

“We must elect leaders who understand this potential and support policies that protect consumers and markets in ways that are fair and innovation-forward,” Ripple said in a statement.

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