By some estimates, up to 20% of Americans were invested in cryptocurrencies in August 2021. While the exact number can vary widely from poll to poll, it’s clear that cryptocurrencies are no longer just a niche project for tech enthusiasts. or a tool for financial speculation. On the contrary, digital assets have become a widespread investment vehicle with the prospect of becoming mainstream.
As optimistic as it is, this level of mass adoption still lacks commensurate political representation, with senior US politicians trailing the crypto adoption curve by a large margin. This makes the very select group of congressmen who are also hodlers particularly interesting. As a legislator, does owning crypto, or at least having some exposure to crypto, mean that you also support the digital asset industry?
According to “Bitcoin Politicians” — a crowdsourced data project aimed at tracking the crypto holdings of US political figures using public financial disclosures — there are currently seven well-known crypto investors in both houses of Congress. Here’s a closer look at how their personal financial strategies are reflected, if at all, in their public policy stances.
Michael McCaul, a 59-year-old Republican representative from Texas, serves as a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He was also the fifth richest member of Congress in 2018. McCaul is known for his hawkish stances on foreign affairs — vocally opposing the US withdrawal from the Yemeni civil war and backing President Joe Biden’s airstrikes on Iran-backed targets in Syria.
In 2016, McCaul co-sponsored a bipartisan bill to propose a commission to study the debate over the use of encryption, including its potential economic effects. In recent years, the Texas lawmaker has not been seen making any public statements related to crypto.
A newcomer to the House of Representatives, Barry Moore is a staunch Republican from Alabama. In January 2021, he opposed the certification of presidential election results and even had his Twitter account temporarily suspended for posts echoing claims of a “stolen election”.
According to a public disclosure, Moore bought between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of Dogecoin (DOGE) in June 2021 – an investment that has since fallen in value by almost 50%. The legislator also invested in Ether (ETH) (up to $15,000) and Cardano’s ADA (up to $45,000). Still, Moore has not publicly expressed his opinion on crypto.
Marie Newman, 57, another newcomer to the House of Representatives, is a Democrat from Illinois aligned with the progressive wing of the party. She is a supporter of abortion rights, gun control, a $15 minimum wage and the Green New Deal.
Newman holds Coinbase shares in December 2021, having purchased between $30,000 and $100,000. She also recorded the acquisition of over $15,000 in Grayscale Bitcoin Trust shares. Newman has made no public statements about crypto-related assets, but she is a member of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, a bipartisan group working to promote a more relaxed regulatory approach to crypto that would allow the technology to thrive.
Jefferson Van Drew
A retired dentist with nearly three decades of experience as a New Jersey legislator, Van Drew was elected to the House in 2018 as a Democrat but changed colors in 2020, becoming a Republican. This is unsurprising, as Van Drew was one of only two members of the Democratic party to vote against former President Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry in December 2019. Yet he voted in line with Democrats 89.7% of the time during his tenure in the party.
In a 2020 disclosure, Van Drew represented up to $250,000 in an investment trust managed by Grayscale, one of the largest digital asset management companies in the market. At the time, the representative’s office declined to give the press details about the exact nature of the investment, and Van Drew himself remained silent on policy issues related to digital assets.
Yet another recent House member, Michael Waltz — a retired Army colonel and former Pentagon adviser — is the first Green Beret to serve in Congress. A Republican from Florida, Waltz maintains a warrior ethos with a pinch of Florida spice, having called for a full US boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics over the Chinese Communist Party’s treatment of the Uighur population. from the country. Waltz also voted against President Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill and opposed the creation of a commission to investigate the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol. .
According to the revelations, Waltz bought up to $100,000 in Bitcoin (BTC) in June 2021, making him one of the few lawmakers to publicly own the original cryptocurrency, specifically. Nevertheless, on social media, the representative prefers to speak out on foreign policy issues, and when asked about his crypto investment, he compared Bitcoin to gold in terms of inflation hedging. Waltz is also a member of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus.
In the case of Cynthia Lummis, a Republican Senator representing Wyoming, her fame as a major crypto proponent likely comes before her credentials as a digital asset investor. A hard-line Republican, Lummis was at one time the only female member of the conservative Freedom Caucus party.
In his January 2021 disclosure, Lummis — a member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee — recorded the purchase of between $50,000 and $100,000 in Bitcoin. The senator revealed that her overall holdings amounted to around 5 BTC.
Lummis certainly puts his mouth where his money is. On the one hand, she compared the United States to Venezuela in terms of inflation, and she said she wanted to launch a financial innovation caucus that would aim to “educate members of the United States Senate and their staff on bitcoin, its advantages and why it is just a fabulous asset to pair with the US dollar.
Around Christmas 2021, Lummis revealed that she was drafting a comprehensive bill which she planned to introduce sometime in 2022. In a tweet, Lummis asked voters to reach out to their senators to support the bill, stating that she was looking for bipartisan co-sponsors.
Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania can be called a sworn enemy of government spending (with a particular exception for charter school funding), having once offers a budget plan with a $2.2 trillion tax cut. He also happens to be a strong supporter of banking deregulation.
Over the past year, Toomey has become one of the leading public supporters of crypto in Washington. He criticized Sen. Sherrod Brown’s plan to leave crypto regulation to executive agencies and urged Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to clarify language in the infrastructure bill regarding tax reporting requirements for crypto. In December 2021, Toomey proposed his own set of regulatory principles, released ahead of a congressional hearing on stablecoins. In June 2021, he purchased between $2,000 and $30,000 worth of shares of Grayscale’s Bitcoin and Ethereum trusts.
Will the trend continue in 2022?
The list of publicly pro-crypto lawmakers has grown significantly over the past year, and while not all Hill hodlers have dared to bolster their investment with symmetrical policy statements, it is a trend. important for the industry. As Chris Kline, co-founder and COO of cryptocurrency retirement investment provider Bitcoin IRA, told Cointelegraph:
As more and more representatives invest in cryptocurrencies, I believe lawmakers will begin to understand digital assets on a deeper level, leading to more informed and detailed crypto policy that will benefit investors at all levels. .
Eric Bleeker, analyst and managing director of investment firm The Motley Fool, also highlighted the importance of the knowledge-enhancing side of crypto exposure for lawmakers:
Surely you should view these investments as beneficial to the industry. Did Visa receive worse legislation after Nancy Pelosi invested in its IPO? Ultimately, crypto can be seen as a “threat” by governments – we’ve seen it banned in China before. The fact that the legislators own it adds to the knowledge of the industry.
Kline also believes that the growing number of politicians invested in crypto will inevitably convert into active support, both verbal and legislative. With new concepts like metaverse, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and digital banking gradually capturing the attention of society, there is no reason for company representatives not to follow these trends.
In Kline’s view, this will require lawmakers to understand the deep complexities and nuances of cryptocurrencies and blockchain: “I see 2022 as the year lawmakers consider the potential of digital assets and another step in their widespread adoption”.
Bleeker expects more US lawmakers to jump into the crypto game in 2022 for one simple reason: “Right now, they’re extremely underinvested.” Bleeker noted that in 2018, the median net worth of members of Congress was $1 million, with 10 senators having a net worth of over $30 million. It is true that some lawmakers may avoid crypto for political reasons, but just looking at the numbers, one would expect more crypto ownership from lawmakers from a pure diversification perspective. wallet.
The hope is that more investment in crypto by lawmakers will be accompanied by a better understanding of this asset class and greater political support.