Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. came out swinging on behalf of the digital assets industry on Tuesday, criticizing what he called a “war on crypto” following earlier remarks he made opposing a U.S. central bank digital currency, or CBDC.
Kennedy, who officially announced his 2024 presidential bid last month, said that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have “no authority to wage an extra-legal war on crypto that leaves major banks as collateral damage.”
Referencing an article written by Ellen Brown titled “How the War on Crypto Triggered a Banking Crisis,” Kennedy said Brown makes a “strong case” that a government-led campaign against the digital assets industry led to several historic bank failures in March, specifically Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank, and Silvergate Bank.
Ellen Brown makes a strong case the FDIC/SEC war on crypto caused failures of SVB, Signature, and Silvergate banks. FDIC and SEC have no authority to wage an extra-legal war on crypto that leaves major banks as collateral damage. #Kennedy24https://t.co/HMZuW7Rr1H
— Robert F. Kennedy Jr (@RobertKennedyJr) May 2, 2023
Whether or not there’s a concerted effort to uproot crypto from the U.S. financial system is a contentious topic. Barney Frank, an ex-congressman who sat on Signature Bank’s board of directors, said the institution was shut down to send an anti-crypto message. A New York regulator has denied those claims.
Regardless, Kennedy’s comments mark an increased focus on the digital assets industry as he aims to dash President Joe Biden’s reelection hopes. And though he’s been described as a fringe candidate, his remarks capture how crypto has become a hot-button political issue as the forthcoming election cycle kicks into gear.
Comments Kennedy made last month in opposition of a CBDC paralleled those of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a potential challenger to former president Donald Trump. Both have warned the technology could be prone to abuses of power and threaten the privacy of its users.
The Federal Reserve issued clarity days after Kennedy’s anti-CBDC remarks, saying the launch of its FedNow payments system is neither a digital currency nor a replacement for cash, which Kennedy appeared to conflate with a CBDC.
While certain Democrats like Elizabeth Warren have slammed crypto numerous times and made criticism of the industry a key pillar of their political platform, others like New York City Mayor Eric Adams have been vocal in their support for the nascent asset class.
But Republicans, lately, have been more willing to publicly align themselves as advocates of crypto, whether that’s lawmakers like Tom Emmer (R-MN) or Ted Cruz (R-TX). In March, Emmer himself accused the FDIC of weaponizing instability in the banking sector to “purge legal digital asset entities” in the U.S. And just last week, Cruz criticized CBDCs himself, saying that they're designed to "destroy all the value of Bitcoin."