Congress's Secret Crypto Fans Will Now Have to Reveal Themselves

(Bloomberg) -- Trading in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is moving out of the shadows on Capitol Hill.

U.S. House members were advised this week that they must publicly reveal any digital token holdings worth more than $1,000, according to a June 18 memo issued by the House Ethics Committee. Lawmakers should include such investments in their annual financial disclosure reports, and also reveal any cryptocurrency sales or purchases that exceed $1,000 within 45 days of the transaction, the memo said.

The ethics guidance means the public will soon learn whether members of Congress are among those who’ve been drawn to what’s become a global investment craze. Bitcoin, the most valuable cryptocurrency, was initially embraced by those who were distrustful of banks and government control over monetary policy. But its meteoric rise last year brought the token to the mainstream and has even made digital coins a focus of congressional hearings.

For decades, lawmakers and those who work for them have been required to disclose assets like real estate and investment earnings. Such rules got stricter through a 2012 law requiring disclosure of stocks, bonds and derivatives trades by members of Congress or their family members. The emergence of digital coins -- and questions over how they should be regulated -- has triggered uncertainty over how such rules should apply to lawmakers’ purchases of Bitcoin and other tokens.

In its memo, the House Ethics panel also addressed whether members of Congress can make money through side gigs tied to cryptocurrencies. House rules bar lawmakers from earning more than $28,050 a year from jobs not tied to their congressional work. The memo says that prohibition applies to token mining, in which investors use powerful computers to create new coins.

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