Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, sharpened her rhetoric against the crypto industry in new letters she sent to industry groups and the Coinbase exchange.
In a letter to the Coin Center crypto advocacy group, she accused industry groups of "flexing a not-so secret weapon" of former defense and law enforcement officials being hired in an purported attempt to undermine Congressional efforts to address the alleged role of crypto in financing terrorist groups including Hamas.
"This abuse of the revolving door is appalling, revealing that the crypto industry is spending millions to give itself a veneer of legitimacy while 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 said in a letter to Coin Center on Monday. Letters were also sent to the Blockchain Association and Coinbase, according to Politico.
Warren has been vocal about the possible use of crypto to finance terrorist organizations such as Hamas following its attack on Israel in October. Warren, among other lawmakers, have often cited a report from the Wall Street Journal that said Hamas, along with other militant groups, used crypto as a financing tool ahead of the attacks in Israel. Data in that article came from blockchain forensics firm Elliptic, which has since said figures were misrepresented in the piece.
Coin Center Executive Director Jerry Brito pushed back on Warren's assertion calling it a "bullying publicity stunt" on X on Tuesday.
"Engaging like-minded experts to advocate against legislative proposals that one sincerely believes are unconstitutional and detrimental to the nation's welfare does not constitute 'undermining bipartisan efforts in Congress,'" Brito said. "Rather, it is the exercise of the fundamental right to freely associate and petition the government. It's everyone's right and no one should apologize for doing it."
Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group, said last year that crypto lobbying spending has almost quadrupled since 2018 with help from a "revolving door lobbyists," including former Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission chairs as well as former officials from the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department.
Warren asked in her letters for information about how many former military or members of Congress are currently working at the three crypto organizations and what their responsibilities are. Warren also asked about whether the groups had "a code of ethics that restricts contacts with active government officials about future employment, or restricts the activities of former government employees that are now working for your organization or on its behalf."
She wants answers by Jan. 14.
Warren has previously raised concerns about crypto hiring. In 2022, Warren and other lawmakers sent letters to financial regulators asking about how they plan to stop the revolving door between the agencies and the crypto industry.
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