Blockchain Goes to Washington: A Lobbying Boom
According to reporting by David Beavers and Daniel Lippman of Politico, blockchain and cryptocurrency lobbyists are a niche yet growing industry on K Street.
They found that “the number of entities that reported lobbying on blockchain issues has nearly tripled over the past year, according to disclosure filings — from a dozen in the fourth quarter of 2017 to 33 in the final quarter of 2018.”
Jerry Brito, executive director of the Coin Center, a nonprofit which has lobbied on behalf of cryptocurrencies since 2014, told Politico Influence (PI) that he believes securities regulation is driving this influx. Brito and Coin Center is currently with Congressional Blockchain Caucus members Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) and Darren Soto (D-FL) on legislation “…that would clarify which digital tokens are labeled as securities.”
Much of the current work for lobbyists consists of proper positioning between lawmakers and their clients or interests. This is not an easy task for a new and disruptive technology that challenges the traditional industries and the framing of issues, especially when taking a new position may threaten a lawmakers previously secured fundraising sources.
In order to fight this uphill battle, Izzy Klein of Klein/Johnson Group, which lobbies for the Securing America’s Internet of Value Coalition, states, “I think that when you have a new technology and new platforms in older and heavily regulated spaces, you need as many legitimate voices and boots on the ground that you can get.”
For those companies looking to adopt and apply blockchain technology, Dina Ellis Rochkind, who lobbies at Paul Hastings, said “we’re in inning one” for winning allies on Capitol Hill.
With a definite push underway to lobby lawmakers on blockchain and cryptocurrency related issues, one can only wait to see what kind of traction can be captured. Overtime, especially, it will be interesting to see how shifting demographics and constituent interests within congressional districts can coincide with a lobbying push to alter or form the positions of various members of Congress.