Crypto industry surveys US 2024 candidates, looking for friendly lawmakers

FILE PHOTO: Illustration shows representations of cryptocurrencies

By Stephanie Kelly

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The cryptocurrency industry, a new financial force in the 2024 U.S. election cycle, is surveying candidates for Congress on their views around the digital asset, as the political arm of the movement gains tens of thousands more followers and adds to its war chest.

The survey from the Stand With Crypto Alliance, an advocacy group that aims to organize voters who own crypto and influence public opinion, is a way for a young industry like crypto to engage in political activity in lieu of trade organizations, said Olivia Buckley of OpenSecrets, a research group that tracks money in U.S. politics.

Ultimately candidates who answer the survey in ways the industry deems positive may see support from groups that want to boost crypto-friendly candidates.

Pro-crypto non-profits have been appearing in greater numbers over the past few years, Buckley said.

"Crypto regulation at the federal level remains very much contested and murky, so seeing which candidates can garner support from the industry could be telling as far as what's to come in Congress," she added.

Over a dozen candidates have already filled out the survey, including those from California, Alabama, Texas, Indiana and Maryland, according to Stand With Crypto, though the group declined to provide names.

It plans to push the survey out to candidates of the 468 seats in Congress up for election in November, the group told Reuters.

"It's for crypto advocates and the crypto community to understand where their policymakers, elected officials and candidates in federal races stand on the issue," said Nick Carr, chief strategist for Stand With Crypto.

The survey, seen by Reuters, asks questions such as whether a candidate believes cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin will play a major role in technological innovation, and whether a candidate believes it is important for the U.S. to modernize the regulatory environment for crypto.

It also asks whether a candidate would vote in favor of certain legislation, such as a bill introduced to the House of Representatives last year that would establish a regulatory framework for digital assets.

Stand With Crypto's member count has grown to 370,000 as of Wednesday, up from 315,000 just before March 5's Super Tuesday contests, according to its website. The group was launched in part by Coinbase, an online platform for buying and selling crypto.

Pro-crypto candidates are already receiving support from three new super PACs - Fairshake, Defend American Jobs and Protect Progress - that put millions of dollars towards Super Tuesday races.

Collectively, the three super PACs have spent more than $21 million in independent expenditures this election cycle, according to OpenSecrets.

(Reporting by Stephanie Kelly; Editing by Heather Timmons and Jamie Freed)