Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) on Wednesday grilled Facebook VP David Marcus during the second day of congressional hearings investigating the social network’s intention to create a digital currency dubbed Libra.
In June, Facebook announced that it would create a worldwide cryptocurrency, drawing backlash from a range of international lawmakers, including President Donald Trump. Marcus, CEO of the Facebook subsidiary Calibra, will oversee the company’s efforts to create a cryptocurrency. He testified before the House Committee on Financial Services Wednesday.
Ocasio-Cortez honed in on a remark Marcus made Tuesday in response to questions from the Senate Banking Committee.
“You said yesterday you would be comfortable taking 100 percent of your pay in Libra. We have a term for taking your pay in corporate controlled currency in this country,” she said. “Are you familiar with the term?” Marcus said he was not.
“It’s called ‘scrip,’” she said, referring to the corporate practice of issuing a specific currency to pay employees and then and subsequently price-gouging their employees at company stores. “Do you think there’s a risk in taking your pay this way?”
Marcus did not answer the question; Ocasio-Cortez’s allotted time had expired.
Update: A Facebook representative reached out to The Daily Beast to say that the company has no plans to offer salaries in Libra at this time.
The New York congresswoman also questioned the oversight of the cryptocurrency, pointing out that the 28 companies in the governing Libra Association (Facebook says there will eventually be 100) were chosen by Facebook rather than voters. Other lawmakers later continued her line of questioning to press Facebook on why it did not intend to include voting users in the Libra Association and how companies were chosen.
“We are discussing a currency controlled by a non-democratically-elected board of largely massive corporations,” she said. “Do you believe currency is a public good?”
“We believe sovereign currencies are sovereign,” Marcus answered. “We do not intend to challenge them.”
She returned: “Should Libra be a public good?”
Marcus deflected: “We will work with regulators.”
“I’ll take that as a no,” she said.
“It is not for me to decide,” Marcus responded.
Ocasio-Cortez and Facebook did not immediately respond to request for comment on the exchange.