Art by Haejin Park. Photo by Bloomberg.
Art by Haejin Park. Photo by Bloomberg.

The Beltway’s ‘Bitcoin Lady’: How Wyoming Senator Cynthia Lummis Became Crypto’s Most Powerful Champion

From Republican freshman to savior of a $2 trillion industry, the senator is determined to convert her colleagues into Bitcoin believers.

Art by Haejin Park. Photo by Bloomberg.
Jan. 14, 2022 11:04 AM PST

Sen. Cynthia Lummis, a Republican from Wyoming, has a nickname for her favorite cryptocurrency: “It’s freedom money,” she says of Bitcoin, which she holds to the tune of about a quarter million dollars. “It’s freedom money if you’re a libertarian; if you’re a progressive; a person on the far left; a run-of-the-mill Republican.”

I’m sitting in Lummis’ office on a snowy Washington afternoon in January, asking her to explain her love of digital currency. We were due to meet in person, but the senator’s schedule has gotten messy, and so she’s calling from a car on the way to another meeting before catching a flight.

Her absence gives me the chance to survey her office, which is outfitted in contemporary Wyoming conservative style. Hanging on one wall is the mounted head of a jackalope, the mythical half-jackrabbit, half-antelope creature that is Wyoming’s unofficial mascot. On her desk is a copy of Robert Kennedy Jr.’s new anti–Anthony Fauci book. On a stuffed bookshelf, I see the spine of “CryptoDad: The Fight for the Future of Money,” one of the books—Saifedean Ammous’ “The Bitcoin Standard” and Nik Bhatia’s “Layered Money” are others—that Lummis often carries down the halls of the Capitol, to banking committee hearings, even onto the Senate floor. It’s her way of signaling her highest priority at the moment: to lead the debate over how to regulate the $2 trillion cryptocurrency industry.

Back in Lummis’ office a week later, I ask the senator—who is sitting in a striped armchair in front of a fireplace and dressed all in black—to expand on her definition of “freedom money.” The cryptocurrency, she argues, will always hold its value, due to the hard cap on the number of bitcoin that can ever be mined (21 million). “It’s ‘freedom from poverty’ money,” she says. “It’s ‘freedom from Venezuela’s totalitarian regime’ money. It’s ‘freedom from runaway inflation’ money. It’s ‘freedom from the Chinese Communist Party’ money.” She throws her arms into the air. “To me that just says ‘freedom’ to people who have no personal freedom in their lives.”

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