According to a recent CNBC analysis, eight of the highest-ranked politicians in the US or their immediate family have traded crypto over the past year–with bets spanning from $1,000 to $100,000.
Altogether seven Republicans disclosed buying or selling crypto, including Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, only one Democrat reported a trade–Representative Marie Newman of Illinois.
From Bitcoin to Dogecoin
While Bitcoin was the most popular crypto among the highest-ranked politicians in the US–with transactions totaling an estimated $229,000, the analysis found that lawmakers also got into memecoins–with roughly $32,000 in Dogecoin trading.
Meanwhile, Ethereum surfaced as the second most popular crypto–with lawmakers’ trades totaling roughly $40,000. However, Members of Congress also didn’t shy away from the alts like Cardano, Stellar, Celo, Chainlink, Basic Attention Token, and EOS.
The analysis was based on congressional financial disclosures and information from Capitol Trades. Since trades are being reported as a range–it relied on using midpoints for tallying total transaction activity.
While regulators are mulling over new rules for the cryptocurrency sector, it remains uncertain if crypto falls under proposals to prohibit Congress from trading individual stocks.
“Members of Congress shouldn’t buy and sell corporate stocks here. I fought against that practice for a decade,” Senator Sherrod Brown, who introduced legislation banning stock trading, told CNBC. However, according to the Ohio Democrat, who also heads the Senate Banking Committee, “crypto is more complicated than that.”
Meanwhile, Senator Toomey, opposes any trading ban, while supporting existing laws that mandate financial disclosures and bar Congress from insider trading. The ranking member of the banking committee purchased up to $15,000 of Grayscale Ethereum Trust and up to $15,000 of Grayscale Bitcoin Trust in June, and according to his spokeswoman–” his crypto investment is merely a reflection of broad financial trends.”
The Pennsylvania Senator became known as an advocate for the industry last summer thanks to the Wyden-Lummis-Toomey amendment to the controversial infrastructure bill, which attempted to limit the problematically broad definition of who qualifies as a crypto broker.
“Given that crypto has become a meaningfully sized asset class, maintaining a well-diversified investment portfolio now means owning some crypto,” according to Toomey’s spokeswoman, who revealed that “crypto makes up a very modest portion–less than 1%–of his overall investment portfolio.”
Limiting Congress’s financial activity
In contrast, two of the lawmakers who traded crypto over the past year told CNBC that they support limiting Congress’s financial activity.
Representative Marie Newman of Illinois surfaced as the only Democrat in the crypto trader bunch.
Her financial disclosures reveal that her husband invested between $15,000 and $50,000 in the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust in November, while another purchase in the $1,000 to $15,000 range was made in January through a joint account.
The Democrat’s spokesman told CNBC.
“As part of the family’s overall savings program to pay for college tuition, the family’s extensive health-care costs and retirement, Congresswoman Newman’s husband for years now has invested in a variety of companies based on public information,”
“These trades are conducted solely by her husband and are regularly disclosed in alignment with the House’s current policy,” he noted, adding that Newman supports efforts to limit or ban trading by lawmakers–crypto included.
Representative Mike Waltz of Florida also told CNBC he supports limiting congressional stock trading. However, the Republican did not specify if he would be in favor of an outright ban, nor whether crypto should be included.
Waltz purchased Bitcoin twice in June–investing between $15,000 and $50,000 both times.
“From a public policy perspective, I believe crypto and blockchain are beneficial for consumers because it serves as a hedge against inflation, authoritarian regimes hate it, and it democratizes currency for the underserved who are cut off from traditional capital,”
Waltz told CNBC, adding the investments in Bitcoin were made with the advice of his financial manager.
The most active crypto trader
Representative Mark Green was the most active crypto trader in Congress over the past year, according to the analysis–or at least his financial advisor was.
The Republican from Tennessee reported 16 transactions of about $1,000 to $15,000–made mostly through a joint account.
Green’s disclosures reveal he bought Dogecoin on April 1 at around six cents, and on April 14 at roughly 12 cents, while he sold the memecoin on May 11 at about 50 cents.
According to his spokeswoman, Green’s trades are handled by a financial advisor who has written instructions “not to take any direction” from the man himself.
“Instead of more rules, what we need is for more enforcement of the rules,” Green said in a statement to CNBC. “Anyone can look up every stock that any member of Congress owns right now online. My investments are managed by a licensed broker, and my wife and I have no say in how those assets are invested,” added the Republican.
Maybe not the most active crypto trader in Congress, but certainly the best-known one is Wyoming Senator Cynthia Lummis, who has been reportedly investing in Bitcoin since 2013 when the price was at around $300.
The crypto-friendly Republican made her last disclosed crypto purchase in August. The Senator beefed up her portfolio less than two weeks after an unsuccessful attempt to insert an amendment into the controversial Senate-passed infrastructure bill. At the time, Lummis bought between $50,000 and $100,000 worth of Bitcoin, which she disclosed outside of the 45-day reporting deadline set by The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act.
Texas Representative Michael McCaul, disclosed that his child had invested between $1,000 and $15,000 in the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, however, his spokeswoman declined to comment.
Finally, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Representative Barry Moore of Alabama are the last two lawmakers on the list who traded crypto over the past year, however, both Republicans did not respond with comments.
Considering the reporting deadline set by the STOCK Act is 45 days following the transaction, it still remains to be seen who bought the January dip, as well as if someone new joined the Congress crypto club.