Business 8 August 2018

Ed Drake

In a first for US Congress, lawmaker announces sizeable BCH, crypto holdings

Rep. Bob Goodlatte has become the first member of the United States Congress to publicly declare holdings in cryptocurrency.

Goodlatte, the chair of the House Committee on the Judiciary, detailed his holdings in his latest annual financial disclosure report, including positions in Bitcoin Cash (BCH). The total value of his investments is estimated to be between $17,000 and $80,000.

While the announcement marks a first for Congress, some analysts are unsurprised by the development, given Rep. Goodlatte’s previous interactions with the cryptocurrency world.

His son, Bobby Goodlatte Jr., is an angel investor involved in backing Coinbase, while the older Goodlatte also serves as a member of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, the group formed by Democrat Jared Polis and Republican David Schweikert in 2017.

The disclosure comes in the wake of a legal advisory published by the United States Office of Government Ethics on June 18, requesting all employees of the U.S. executive branch disclose their interests in cryptocurrency.

According to the notice, employees are required to report their cryptocurrency investments through either their public or confidential disclosure report, stating: “U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) has determined that virtual currency is ‘property held…for investment or the production of income’ for purposes of public and confidential financial disclosure, pursuant to the Ethics in Government Act.”

“Executive branch employees are therefore required to report their holdings of virtual currency on their public or confidential financial disclosure report, subject to applicable reporting thresholds for property held for investment or the production of income,” the OGE stated.

The advisory set a 45-day window time for disclosures, and follows moves from Jared Polis to seek clarification from the House Committee on Ethics on how elected representatives should declare their investments in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

While some have tipped Polis to be next to declare his hand in relation to cryptocurrency holdings, with potentially several more to follow, the developments around Goodlatte represent the first time a member of Congress has been known to hold investments in cryptocurrency.

Some have seen the disclosure as a welcome step on the journey to mass adoption, reflective of the increasing profile of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin—including within mainstream political and financial circles.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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