Elizabeth Warren Pushes Back at Blockchain Lobbying Efforts

Responding, Coin Center noted the "fundamental right to freely associate and petition the government."

AccessTimeIconDec 19, 2023 at 10:29 a.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 6:51 p.m. UTC

Efforts to lobby the U.S. Congress, in what Politico called a "not-so secret weapon," is an affront to lawmakers attempting to stop Hamas and other terror groups using crypto to finance themselves, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said in a letter to lobbying groups Blockchain Association, Coin Center and Coinbase.

"I write regarding a troubling new report that your association and other crypto interests are … [working] to undermine bipartisan efforts in Congress and the Biden Administration to address the role of cryptocurrency in financing Hamas and other terrorist organizations," Warren wrote.

The narrative that crypto provides material support to Hamas, however, has been contested. Blockchain analytics firms contest the Wall Street Journal claims of extensive crypto funding that Warren cites in her letter, saying the actual amount is in the thousands of dollars rather than tens of millions.

Disproven or not, Coin Center said in its own statement that getting like-minded folks together to advocate against legislation "is the exercise of the fundamental right to freely associate and petition the government."

"No one should apologize for doing it," Coin Center continued. "Resorting to questioning motives often reflects an inability to prevail on the merits of an argument itself."

Revolving doors and ethics

In the letter, Senator Warren took aim at a "revolving door" that the industry uses to "give itself a veneer of legitimacy."

[The industry] is "fighting tooth and nail to stonewall common sense rules designed to restrict the use of crypto for terror financing – rules that could cut into crypto company profits," Warren wrote.

Warren asked for information on the employment of former government officials by crypto firms, highlighting concerns about the "revolving door" of public officials moving into private-sector roles and potentially influencing legislation and regulatory activities related to crypto, anti-money laundering and terrorist financing.

Nearly two-thirds of former members of the 115th U.S. Congress, which ended in January 2019, found employment outside politics, with many influencing federal policy through lobbying or strategic consulting jobs, a 2019 study from Public Citizen found.

Correction (Dec. 19, 2023, 17:05 UTC): Corrects that Coinbase received the third letter.

Edited by Sheldon Reback.


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