Haun Ventures, the digital asset investment firm helmed by former U.S. federal prosecutor Katie Haun, is broadening its team of policy-focused advisors aimed at founders as its chief policy officer steps down from the position, as confirmed by the company to The Block.
Tomicah Tillemann, who previously worked as the global head of policy at a16z, is transitioning away from his full-time role and is set to join a non-profit organization next year. Tillemann is best known for his work in Washington, having worked for the White House and across U.S. Senate and Congressional campaigns, according to his biography. He joined the State Department in 2009 as then served as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech writer.
Despite this change, he will maintain ties with Haun Ventures as an advisor, continuing to work with the firm’s portfolio of companies through its Founder Advisory Network. For instance, Tillemann plans to conduct a founder day in D.C. early next year.
The firm disclosed three new members of this network to its portfolio founders. Joe Yum, formerly an FBI Special Agent, is joining the advisory network, boasting extensive experience leading investigations encompassing transnational organized crime, financial crime and national security threats. Ken Bagchi, another former special agent with the FBI, is joining the group after a two-decade career.
James Burnham, leveraging his background in supervising litigations of national importance for the government, recently advocated for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in support of Coinbase’s lawsuit against the SEC, is also joining the group.
Critical time for crypto policy
The inclusion of new policy-focused advisors within the venture firm’s network coincides with specific legislators targeting the crypto market due to its close association with high-ranking figures in the national security realm.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren earlier this week sharpened her rhetoric against the crypto industry in new letters sent to industry policy groups, accusing them of “flexing a not-so secret weapon” of former defense and law enforcement officials.
“This abuse of the revolving door is appalling, revealing that the crypto industry is spending millions to give itself a veneer of legitimacy while fighting tooth and nail to stonewall common sense rules designed to restrict the use of crypto for terror financing – rules that could cut into crypto company profits,” Warren said in a letter to Coin Center on Monday. Letters were also sent to the Blockchain Association and Coinbase, according to Politico.
Cryptocurrency companies have been bolstering their policy-focused teams and pouring resources into advocating for pro-crypto positions in Congress. Coinbase, most notably perhaps, launched a global advisory council to “navigate the complex and evolving landscape of the cryptocurrency industry” with members including former U.S. Senator Patrick Toomey, former congressman Tim Ryan, and former congressman Sean Patrick Maloney.
Still, Warren’s assertions that cryptocurrencies are primarily used for illicit activities have been significantly challenged by industry participants and data. According to Chainalysis, illicit cryptocurrency-related transaction volumes constituted only 0.24% of all activity in 2022. Earlier this month, Warren announced the expansion of a coalition of Senators around a bill that would aim to bring further compliance to cryptocurrency companies in the realm of anti-money laundering rules.
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