Biden's Communications Director Restricted From Handling Crypto Firms
US President Joe Biden's communications director, Ben LaBolt, will reportedly be restricted from handling matters related to any cryptocurrency or technology firms he previously represented, according to an April 22 Bloomberg Law report. However, he will be allowed to advise on the president’s approach to regulating cryptocurrency and social media companies.
LaBolt was previously a partner at Bully Pulpit Interactive (BPI), a communications firm that had 23 clients paying fees exceeding $5,000 in a year. These clients included decentralized exchange UniSwap, venture capital firm Andressen Horowitz, and companies such as Meta Platforms, Shopify, and West Street.
In a public financial disclosure report published on April 21, LaBolt disclosed owning $50,001-$100,000 in Bitcoin and $15,001-$50,000 in Ethereum 2. However, he will be barred from "participating in legal matters, investigations, or contracts involving cryptocurrency or technology firms he previously represented."
These restrictions are in line with the ethics rules followed by senior White House staff. Despite the restrictions, LaBolt will be allowed to advise on crypto regulation.
This move comes after Biden signed an executive order (EO) on digital assets on March 9. The EO outlined an interagency process that will involve 16 high officials, initially starting with the task of producing an elaborate series of reports. These reports are due at intervals ranging from 90 days to over a year from the publication of the EO.
While the EO did not specify any regulatory actions, it attracted attention from government officials and industry leaders alike. Republican "Crypto Senator" Cynthia Loomis of Wyoming praised the administration's growing interest in digital assets.
Ari Redborn, head of legal and government affairs for blockchain-based intelligence firm TRM Labs, said that he was "expecting certain things and the positive tone was not necessarily one of them."
The move to restrict LaBolt's handling of matters related to crypto firms may be seen as a way to ensure ethical behavior in the White House. This move is in line with the Biden administration's focus on transparency and ethical governance.
It is worth noting that this move may also affect LaBolt's former clients, such as UniSwap and Andressen Horowitz. It remains to be seen how this move will affect their business dealings with the White House.
Overall, this move highlights the growing interest in crypto regulation by the Biden administration. With the interagency process set in motion by the EO, it is likely that the US government will take a more active role in regulating the crypto industry.