Is owning Bitcoin a conflict of interest for a lawmaker? Senator Cynthia Llumis doesn’t think so

  • Senator Llumis says that her owning Bitcoin isn’t a conflict of interest, even as her bill to regulate the sector continues to receive support from both political divides.
  • The senator owns about $200,000 worth of Bitcoin and has been one of the most vocal crypto supporters, saying she first bought BTC when it was just $330.

Is owning an asset that you’re at the forefront of regulating a conflict of interest for a lawmaker? There are different schools of thought, but according to the most vocal crypto supporter in the U.S Congress, it’s not. Senator Cynthia Llumis defended her ownership of BTC in a recent interview even as her push to regulate the industry gathers steam.

Llumis, a Republican senator for Wyoming, made an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press Reports in an episode that airs today, as one outlet reports. Asked about the potential conflict of interest in her BTC ownership, she replied:

Well, I own cows too, and cows are commodities. Bitcoin is a commodity. Should I have to sell my cows because they’re a commodity and now I’m on the Banking Committee that may have a relationship to the [Commodity Futures Trading Commission], or there may be laws in Congress that affect the marketing or ownership of cattle.

With the comparison, the senator was simplifying the issue through comparison. However, the two aren’t the same.

For one, her ownership of the two ‘commodities’ varies greatly. She owns between $1 million and $5 million of cattle according to the latest filings. She claimed to have generated $110,000 from her herd of cattle in those filings.

When she took office in 2020, she reported owning between $50,000 and $100,000 of BTC at the time. Then in August 2021, she reported having purchased another stash worth between $50,000 and $100,000. This puts her total ownership anywhere between $100,000 and $200,000, given she hasn’t declared any income from selling the crypto, which she would be required to if the transaction exceeded $1,000.

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Llumis has been in the BTC game for years, she revealed.

I bought my first three Bitcoin for $330 each. So I had $1,000 worth of skin in the game. It’s now a $1.8 trillion market. There are 17,000 to 18,000 cryptocurrencies. So this is a very big marketplace. And I am a speck of sand.

The last time Bitcoin traded at $330 was in November 2015, way before most people had even heard about it. It was also just a few months after Ethereum had launched. In fact, in the current market’s top ten cryptos, only Ethereum, XRP and Tether had launched back then.

Llumis has been working on her Responsible Finance Innovation Act since last year. The bill, which received support and lobbying from Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary recently, aims to fully integrate digital assets into the American financial system.

About Author

Steve has been a blockchain writer for four years, and a crypto enthusiast for even longer. He is most excited by the application of blockchain to solve the challenges facing developing nations.

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