The billionaire Winklevoss twins, founders of the cryptocurrency company Gemini, have made headlines once again with their latest announcement. On Thursday, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss revealed on social media platform X that they each donated $1 million in Bitcoin to support Donald Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign. This move positions the twins among the growing number of crypto executives backing the Republican candidate amid heightened regulatory scrutiny.
Tyler Winklevoss criticized President Joe Biden’s administration in his post, saying, “Over the past few years, the Biden administration has openly declared war against crypto.It has weaponized multiple government agencies to bully, harass, and sue the good actors in our industry in an effort to destroy it.” He added that Trump was “pro-Bitcoin, pro-crypto, and pro-business.”
Gemini’s legal battles and settlements
In recent years, Gemini has faced significant legal challenges. In February, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) announced that Gemini would return at least $1.1 billion to customers of its troubled lending program due to a third party’s bankruptcy. Additionally, the company agreed to pay a $37 million fine for “unsafe and unsound practices.” The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also settled a lawsuit with Gemini for $21 million without the firm admitting or denying wrongdoing.
Despite these legal hurdles, the Winklevoss twins continue to be influential figures in the crypto industry. They first gained widespread attention after suing Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, alleging he had stolen their idea for the social networking site. The lawsuit resulted in a 2008 settlement where the twins received cash and Facebook stock.
Trump’s stance on cryptocurrency
Donald Trump has positioned himself as a strong supporter of the cryptocurrency sector. At a recent fundraiser in San Francisco, attended by tech executives, he criticized Democratic efforts to regulate the industry and emphasized his commitment to being the “crypto president.” Republican National Committeewoman Harmeet Dhillon said that Trump “touted crypto as important and stressed that he was very supportive of the sector,” although he did not provide specific details on his proposed policies.
Increasing political influence of the crypto industry
The cryptocurrency industry is making concerted efforts to influence US political outcomes as it faces increasing regulatory challenges. Major bankruptcies in 2022 exposed fraud and misconduct within the industry, leading to intensified scrutiny from regulators. In response, the crypto sector is investing heavily in political campaigns, with Coinbase recently launching a $2 million ad campaign targeting Latino voters. Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, connected to the campaign, highlighted the systemic barriers communities of color face in wealth-building, advocating for crypto as a viable alternative.
Regulatory environment and future implications
The Biden administration has expressed a desire to develop a regulatory framework for digital currencies, following an executive order in 2022 aimed at ensuring the responsible development of digital assets. This has led to calls for clearer guidelines from regulatory bodies such as the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
(With inputs from agencies)