Bitcoin’s most zealous supporters may believe that the digital currency will one day pose an existential threat to the government’s control of the monetary system, but at least one member of Congress is investing in the cryptocurrency.
In late June, the House Ethics Committee passed new rules requiring members of the House to disclose their ownership of cryptocurrency in annual reports, the same way they would disclose any other asset. The new rules also require lawmakers to report cryptocurrency transactions within 45 days, the same period given for other financial transactions.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) owns between $17,000 and $80,000 in cryptocurrency, according to his annual financial disclosure. That report, which all members of the House are required to file with the Clerk’s Office for the House, was filed on May 10 — before the new House Ethics Committee memo went into effect. His disclosure shows that he primarily owns Bitcoin, as well as at least nominal amounts of alternative cryptocurrencies Bitcoin Cash and Ethereum.
Goodlatte’s office did not respond to multiple requests from Sludge for comment.
Goodlatte’s son, Bobby Goodlatte Jr., is an angel investor in the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase. It is unknown exactly when Goodlatte Jr. invested in the company or how much he invested. Goodlatte Jr. is publicly bullish on Bitcoin and has engaged in price speculation on the digital asset.
Goodlatte Jr. did not respond to questions from Sludge about his investment or whether he ever discussed cryptocurrency investments with his father.
Between 45-day transaction reports and next year’s annual financial disclosures, there are several members of Congress who are likely to reveal cryptocurrency investments.
Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) is one of the richest members of Congress and the richest Democrat, with an estimated net worth of $122 million, according to D.C. publication Roll Call. Polis was one of the co-founders of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, which counts as members Goodlatte and Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.), the second-wealthiest member of Congress.
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Polis and his co-chair of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) have introduced legislation to encourage government adoption of blockchain technology, including an amendment to this year’s National Defense Authorization Act that would have required the Department of Defense to consider military uses of distributed ledgers.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who is not part of the Blockchain Caucus, has nonetheless been optimistic about the potential of blockchain technology. After mentioning that he was an early investor in cell phones, Warner said he believed that blockchain could be just as transformative and result in an eye-popping $20 trillion market capitalization for the sector.
“I think we may be on top of something that is transformational,” Warner said in a hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee earlier this year. “If we have the same rate of increase the next two years that we’ve had the last couple of years, we’d be at north of $20 trillion [market capitalization] caught up in this area by 2020.