Cynthia Lummis, Bitcoin, and the ethical question
Cynthia Lummis, Bitcoin, and the ethical question
Bitcoin

Cynthia Lummis, Bitcoin, and the ethical question

By Eleonora Spagnolo - 21 Dec 2021

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Senator Cynthia Lummis owns at least 5 Bitcoin. That’s what the very popular Twitter account Bitcoin Archive detects:

Senator Cynthia Lummis’ investments in bitcoin

The conclusion of the 5 Bitcoin emerges by analyzing a Wall Street Journal article in which it is said that the senator has $250,000 in Bitcoin. The math is quickly done: currently, BTC is worth $48,700, so Senator Lummis owns just over 5 BTC.

But even this conclusion could actually be forced. It emerges, in fact, from the tax returns that politicians in Congress are required to submit, that Cynthia Lummis in 2020 had between $100,000 and $250,000 in Bitcoin. Whether she made other investments in 2021 is unknown. 

What is certain is that Bitcoin is her only investment, if you exclude the family ranches, at least reading her tax return reported by the Bitcoin Politicians website. 

The Wall Street Journal article and the ethical issue

According to the Wall Street Journal, Senator Lummis and Senator Patrick Toomey are in an awkward position precisely because they own Bitcoin. Actually, Pat Toomey owns shares in the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust and the Grayscale Ethereum Trust. 

But since they are both members of the Senate Banking Committee, they would have a conflict of interest unless they sell their BTCs. 

Senator Lummis doesn’t think so, so much so that she told the newspaper:

“It’s a commodity. Should I also sell my cows?”

The point is that the committee they’re on is the one called to write the rules for cryptocurrencies. That’s where an ethical question arises: is it legal for them to have cryptocurrencies? The answer is yes; there is nothing illegal about it. Is it also appropriate? Here the answer raises another question: why shouldn’t it be? 

To say that the two senators must sell their Bitcoin to avoid conflict of interest risks being an exercise in hypocrisy. It would be like stipulating to all Commission members that they cannot have any kind of investment. 

Pat Toomey
Senator Pat Toomey

The experience needed

In fact, both have hinted that not only will they not sell their cryptocurrencies, but having them puts them in a privileged position. 

It is no coincidence that the two of them introduced an amendment that would have mitigated the harmful effects of the Infrastructure Bill on the cryptocurrency sector. 

Clearly, to understand Bitcoin, one must own it. It is also helpful to have input from those who know how they work to legislate on Bitcoin. That’s why their presence in the US Congressional Senate Banking Committee is an added value and not a deterrent.

After all, the cryptocurrency industry expects to contribute to the coming regulation in the US. Coinbase has already submitted its proposal and is waiting for policymakers’ reactions.  

But if the view is that you don’t have to own Bitcoin to talk about Bitcoin, then the risk is that tough times are ahead for the cryptocurrency industry in the US. 

Eleonora Spagnolo

Journalist passionate about the web and the digital world. She graduated with honours in Multimedia Publishing at the University La Sapienza in Rome and completed a master's degree in Web and Social Media Marketing.

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