Biden’s CFTC Picks Include Crypto Law Scholar

The U.S. president plans to nominate Kristin Johnson, a law professor at Emory University, and Christy Goldsmith Romero, who teaches cryptocurrency regulations at the University of Virginia.

Sep 13, 2021 at 9:01 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 1:57 p.m. UTC

U.S. President Joe Biden plans to nominate law professor Kristin Johnson and government official Christy Goldsmith Romero to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and Acting CFTC Chairman Rostin Behnam to be the Senate-confirmed head of the regulatory agency.

If nominated and confirmed, Johnson and Goldsmith Romero would double the current number of CFTC commissioners, following Brian Quintez’s departure last month and Dan Berkovitz’s announcement that he will step down in the middle of October. Behnam, who has served as acting chairman since January, and Dawn Stump are the remaining commissioners at the commodities regulator.

The White House announced Biden’s intent to nominate the three individuals but did not say when he will submit the nominations to the Senate for approval. After he does, the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee will hold hearings to vet the candidates and vote to advance the nominations before the overall Senate can vote on the nominees.

Johnson, a law professor at Emory University, specializes in complex financial products regulation, including market trading, clearing and settlement, according to a White House press release.

Goldsmith Romero is the special inspector general for the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, where she has served since 2012. She previously served as counsel in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the CFTC’s securities-focused counterpart. According to her LinkedIn profile, she teaches cryptocurrency regulations at the University of Virginia, where she is an adjunct professor.

Biden’s announcement comes as lawmakers pay closer attention to the cryptocurrency industry. The House of Representatives is set to vote on the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure bill at the end of September, as the House Ways and Means Committee proposed raising tax revenue through updating constructive and wash sale regulations around digital currencies.

UPDATE (Sept. 13, 2021, 21:07 UTC): Corrects that Goldsmith Romero teaches crypto regulations at the University of Virginia, not Georgetown University.


The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.

Nikhilesh De is CoinDesk's managing editor for global policy and regulation. He owns marginal amounts of bitcoin and ether.

James Rubin is CoinDesk's U.S. news editor based on the West Coast.