The total value of cryptocurrency swelled above $3 trillion in November thanks in part to new investors—including some members of Congress. A new report from Insider highlights who on Capitol Hill is into crypto and calls attention to the ethical issues that might arise from this.
The most prominent name on the list is Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), a prominent crypto booster who has previously disclosed that she owns Bitcoin. According to a filing from early this year, Lummis bought up to $100,000 worth of Bitcoin using a platform called River. The value of those holdings is likely much higher today.
A spokesperson for Lummis, Abegail Cave, told Insider that the Wyoming senator "has gone above and beyond to comply with federal law and Senate Ethics requirements regarding financial disclosures."
Meanwhile, Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ) disclosed he holds up to $250,000 in an investment trust with crypto giant Grayscale, while freshman Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D-MA) reported owning $1,000-$15,000 of equity in a crypto analytics firm called Flipside Crypto.
Other crypto owners in Congress are Rep. Barry Moore (R-AL) who disclosed that he invested $15,000 in "crypto currency" without providing more specifics about the coins he bought or where he obtained them, and Rep. Marie Newman (D-Il). The latter revealed that her husband has traded Coinbase stock at least 16 times, including a recent trade valued at $50,000 to $100,000, and bought up to $50,000 in Grayscale's Bitcoin Trust.
Congress has 535 voting House members and Senators in total, so it's perhaps remarkable that just five say they own crypto. That figure amounts to less than 1%, which is far lower than the general population—recent surveys suggest at least 10% of Americans own crypto directly, while many others may own it in other forms.
It's possible that other members of Congress have bought crypto but failed to disclose it. Insider's report is part of a larger series called "Conflicted in Congress" that shines light on how some lawmakers own stocks in companies they oversee or even trade on insider information. Reformers say this gives rise to conflicts of interest and that lawmakers should be required to put their holdings in a blind trust. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also wants to avoid conflicts of interest; she recently revealed she abstains from crypto and individual stock investments to maintain impartiality as a legislator.
Also notable in Insider's report is that at least 21 senior Congressional staff own crypto, including a top aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. As the report notes, there is a considerable age gap between those who serve in Congress, where the average age is 58 in the House and 64 in the Senate, and Congressional staffers. This suggests very different attitudes toward crypto across generations.
Congress has traditionally been highly skeptical of crypto, though attitudes appear to evolving. In a recent hearing featuring the CEOs of six crypto firms, many lawmakers expressed newfound interests and understanding of the assets—though senior members of Congress, particularly on the Democratic side, remain hostile to it.