Elizabeth Warren hasn’t lost a Senate race. Is a pro-crypto Republican lawyer about to change that?



Sen. Elizabeth Warren, perhaps the staunchest crypto skeptic in Congress, soon may find herself squaring off against a serious proponent of that very industry.

John Deaton, 56, a Massachusetts attorney and digital assets advocate, is seriously considering running this year as a Republican, the Boston Globe reported. Deaton is taking a “serious look” at the race and will decide in the coming days, Jim Conroy, a key advisor of Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s political operation who’s been consulting with Deaton, told the Globe.

Deaton didn’t immediately respond to Fortune’s request for comment. If he enters the race, he’ll be the first significant Republican challenger for Warren since she announced she was running for reelection last year. 

Warren, elected as the state’s first female senator in 2012, tweeted last month: “It’s time for crypto to follow the same anti-money laundering rules as everyone else. I’ve got a bill to make it happen.”

That bill, the Digital Asset Anti-Money Laundering Act, which was introduced to the Senate in July, would require the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to issue guidance on digital assets. It would “close loopholes in anti-money laundering rules, cutting off drug suppliers and cartels from using crypto to facilitate their illegal business,” according to Warren’s website.

Deaton often has been critical of Warren on X, citing concerns that the senator has failed to engage in oversight of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Chairman Gary Gensler. “She literally said that she didn’t want to place Gensler in a tough spot. Are you f’ing kidding me?” he tweeted in December.

“I have over 600 #XRP holders who live in Massachusetts and who are her constituents. We begged Warren’s office to inquire about the SEC and do her job,” he added.

XRP Marine 

Deaton has worked for decades as an attorney, including on a case for asbestos victims while at his firm in Rhode Island. The former Marine recently moved to Massachusetts, is a cancer survivor, and has three daughters, the Globe reported.

His crypto advocacy reached a new level in 2021, the year he filed an amicus brief tied to a lawsuit between the SEC and Ripple Labs in which the regulator had accused Ripple of illegally selling more than $1 billion of digital currency.

Deaton, who owns Ripple’s native token, argued he and other XRP holders should be permitted to intervene in the case. In the amicus brief, Deaton wrote that XRP shouldn’t be considered a security as it didn’t pass the Howey test, and he accused the SEC of overstepping: “There are millions of XRP holders being held hostage as collateral damage while the SEC engages in a jurisdictional power grab.”

That same year, Deaton launched CryptoLaw, a website designed to be a “clearinghouse of information, news and analysis on key U.S. legal and regulatory developments for digital asset holders.”

Getting a Fairshake

Beyond Deaton eyeing the Senate, the crypto industry has been doubling down on efforts to influence the 2024 elections, with super PACs injecting money into the race in amounts not seen since Sam Bankman-Friend donated $50 million during the 2022 election cycle, according to Federal Elections Commission campaign finance data.

The biggest new crypto-focused super PAC, Fairshake, picked its first major fight this week, with a multimillion-dollar ad buy attacking Democrat Katie Porter, a Warren protégé, in a California primary, the New York Times reported.

Fairshake and two affiliated super PACs, Protect Progress and Defend American Jobs, revealed two weeks ago in federal filings that collectively they had amassed almost $80 million in 2023. Most PAC funding so far has come from three sources: Coinbase, Ripple Labs, and Andreessen Horowitz.

Fairshake didn’t immediately return Fortune’s request for comment.

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