New crypto fundraising startup to accept political donations in digital currencies as 2022 midterms heat up

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Candidates running in the 2022 midterm elections could see a boost to their campaign war chests with the launch of a fundraising platform that will accept and process crypto donations.

The new platform, titled Engage Raise, is set to launch in July and will allow federal candidates to raise campaign funds solely through cryptocurrencies.

Crypto executives have contributed more than $30 million to federal candidates and campaigns since the start of the 2020 election cycle, with more crypto advocates such as Bitcoin investor Erik Finman emerging as top funders of countryside.

“Candidates can use our platform to connect with the crypto and blockchain community through fundraisers, events and messaging,” Martin Dobelle, CEO of Engage Labs, the parent company of Engage Raise, told CNBC. in an email. Campaigns will be able to process contributions in all major cryptocurrencies through a web browser or by adding a widget to their websites, Dobelle said.

Although digital currencies are known to allow their owners to transact anonymously, all crypto donations through Engage will need to be disclosed to the Federal Election Commission, like most campaign contributions.

Dobelle said Engage Labs has already made nearly $1 million in pre-seed investments. He said some of the initial funding came from business leaders including Al Reid, founding partner of Calypso Investment Partners, and Raf Michalowski, CEO of hotspot seller CoastFi.

Allan Keen, president of a real estate company Keewin Real Property, said he invested in Engage Labs, in part because he believes it helps bring “the Democratic process further into the digital age, by enabling the acceptance of cryptocurrencies for donations from country”.

The move to create an online platform for political donors to use cryptocurrencies comes as the crypto industry becomes a powerful lobbying force in Washington.

While crypto has attempted to exert its influence on Capitol Hill, the industry as a whole appears to be in the midst of a bumpy time. Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange, recently announced that it was laying off almost a fifth of its workforce amid a crash in its stock and crypto prices.

Bitcoin plunged to a new 18-month low this week, falling below $21,000 on Wednesday. The most valuable cryptocurrency has fallen nearly 70% since hitting an all-time high of over $68,000 in November 2021. Ether, the second-largest token, has fallen nearly 80% from compared to the peak of the crypto craze.

Dobelle is pushing ahead with the launch of Engage Labs and Engage Raise despite crypto struggles, believing digital currency markets will rebound by early next year and continue until the election of 2024, when crypto-related fundraising could play a role in the presidential vote.

“We are optimistic that the broader market will recover, along with crypto, and that a major crypto growth cycle will lead to the crucial 2024 election,” Dobelle said.