Winklevoss Twins Refunded After Trump Crypto Gift Exceeded Limit

(Bloomberg) -- Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss were refunded after their Bitcoin donations to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign exceeded the maximum amount allowed under federal law.

Most Read from Bloomberg

The billionaire twins, who clashed with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg over ownership of the social network, now run Winklevoss Capital Management and are large investors in Bitcoin. Both said they donated the equivalent of $1 million of the cryptocurrency to the presumptive Republican nominee — which would exceed the maximum $844,600 that the Trump committee can legally accept per person.

The portion above that limit was refunded to the donors, according to a campaign official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter. It is unclear whether the Trump 47 Committee, which received the Bitcoin donation and is focused on bigger contributors, refunded the amount in crypto currency or its cash equivalent.

The donated money is split among the former president’s campaign, the leadership political action committee that pays his legal bills, the Republican National Committee and 42 GOP state party committees.

The contribution is the latest sign of the courtship between Trump and the crypto industry, which has emerged as an influential player in the 2024 election as investors and allies seek to support candidates espousing a lighter regulatory touch.

“President Donald J. Trump is the pro-Bitcoin, pro-crypto, and pro-business choice,” Tyler Winklevoss wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter, on Thursday.

The twins also run the Gemini crypto exchange. Many of its users spent months trying to get back funds they invested into Gemini Earn, a program to earn yield on crypto assets that was run jointly with now-bankrupt Genesis. The users can now get their Earn assets back in kind. Last week, New York Attorney General Letitia James said she recovered about $50 million from Gemini for users who, she said “were defrauded.”

Gemini agreed in February to return at least $1.1 billion to customers through the Genesis bankruptcy as part of a settlement with the New York Department of Financial Services. The Securities and Exchange Commission sued Gemini and Genesis over Gemini Earn early last year; Genesis has settled the charges.

Earlier: Crypto Titans’ $160 Million War Chest Threatens Senate Democrats

Trump has embraced the industry on the campaign trail, referencing Bitcoin and other digital assets as a way to reach out to new voters and by accepting crypto donations. He’s also discussed cryptocurrency policy with Elon Musk, according to a person familiar with their talks.

In his bid to actively court crypto investors, Trump met with Bitcoin miners earlier this month at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and during an address to the Libertarian Party convention pledged to commute the sentence of Ross Ulbricht, the convicted founder of the Silk Road online marketplace.

Trump was asked about the Winklevoss donation on an episode of the All-In podcast released Thursday. The former president told the podcast hosts, venture capitalists David Sacks, Chamath Palihapitiya and Jason Calacanis, and entrepreneur David Friedberg, that he met the brothers for the first time at a fundraiser hosted by Sacks and Palihapitiya in San Francisco earlier this month, calling the twins “very nice.”

Trump has been ramping up his outreach to Wall Street and business leaders, promising to renew tax cuts passed under his tenure and to reduce regulations in a bid to capitalize on frustration with President Joe Biden’s handling of the economy.

“Crypto innovators and others in the technology sector are under attack from Biden and Democrats,” said Brian Hughes, a senior adviser to the campaign. “While Biden stifles innovation with more regulation and higher taxes, President Trump is ready to encourage American leadership in this and other emerging technologies.”

--With assistance from Olga Kharif.

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.