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Elizabeth Warren, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Target Crypto’s Revolving Door

The lawmakers are concerned about crypto’s “rapidly escalated” lobbying and its potential to “corrupt the policymaking process.”

2 min read
Crypto firms have enjoyed heavier influence in Washington over the past few years. Image: Shutterstock.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have asked regulators to clarify their rules around ex-employees seeking jobs in the crypto industry.

The letters, published by news site Punchbowl, were sent to the heads of seven agencies including the two main regulators with responsibility for crypto, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). 

The lawmakers asked how long individuals are barred from taking a role in an industry with which they interacted while working in their regulatory positions, as well as what other safeguards are in place to protect against conflicts of interest.

They say that the crypto sector has “rapidly escalated its lobbying efforts in recent months,” citing reports compiled by advocacy group Public Citizen and watchdog group Tech Transparency Project.

“As part of this influence campaign, crypto firms have hired hundreds of ex-government officials,” reads the letter, which was also signed by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) as well as representatives Jesús G. "Chuy" García (D-Illinois) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan).

“We have long been aware of the revolving door in other sectors of the economy—from Big Tech, to the defense industry, to other parts of the financial services sector—and we are concerned that the crypto revolving door risks corrupting the policymaking process and undermining the public’s trust in our financial regulators.”

Senator Warren has been an outspoken critic of the crypto industry. Earlier this month, she led another group of lawmakers in a request for information about the energy usage of Bitcoin mining in the state of Texas.

Ocasio-Cortez, meanwhile, has said she does not believe that members of Congress should hold or trade crypto - or any other financial assets - to avoid conflicts of interest.

The upcoming midterms have also provided an opportunity for crypto executives to get involved in campaigns. 

Coinbase even recently added a feature to let users check which politicians are “crypto-friendly” in the run-up to the vote.

But the industry has also faced opposition from both politicians and others in the technology sector. In June, 26 tech experts signed a letter urging lawmakers to take a skeptical approach to crypto advocates’ claims.

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