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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce isn’t yet “willing to make a blanket statement that everything other than Bitcoin is a security,” she said on Wednesday at the Medici conference in Los Angeles.

Why it matters: SEC chairman Jay Clayton and Commissioner Mike Piowar have both said publicly they've yet to see any initial coin offerings that don't look like a security.

Peirce’s view on the topic are nuanced, acknowledging that “there’s incredible diversity in what’s out there,” including tokens that are like securities, money, and other things.

  • She raised the possibility that some tokens’ function can change over time. While they may be like securities when first issued (say, to fund a project), they may take on a different function later (say, once their underlying network is operational).
  • She also admitted that “if the promoter [of a token] is not involved anymore, to pursue that promoter doesn’t make sense”—and important aspect to consider given that many projects are designed to be decentralized and not depend on their original leader.

Peirce said she hopes further guidance will come from the SEC's corporation finance division rather than its enforcement unit, which has been increasingly going after ICO fraudsters.

  • She encouraged entrepreneurs creating and developing digital tokens to engage with the corporation finance division and share how they’re building these technologies. “I want us to be able to play that role but we can’t do that unless you tell us what you’re actually doing,” she said.

She also outlined a preference for a more hands-off approach to helping financial entrepreneurs than some regulatory bodies’ use of sandboxes.

  • “On a beach, you have a life guard…. but she’s not sitting with the sand castle builders,” Peirce explained. Her concern is that regulators may get too involved in the development of new technology and steer it themselves.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”