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US politicians can accept bitcoin donations


Americans will soon be able to make donations in cryptocurrencies to politicians – but not anonymously

Using bitcoins, once thought of as an illegal, underground source of currency fraud, and saying they cannot be donated anonymously, is like saying American elections aren’t already wrought with voter fraud. It’s as if unreported donations to the Obama presidential campaigns by ‘anonymous’ donors from overseas, and double-voting in swing states never happened. All the while, Democrats decry the Koch brothers and Citizen’s United as their Union buddies and George Soros dump millions into Democrat (and some Republican) political campaigns.


Alex Hern, Friday 9 May 2014 10.02 EDT

American politicians can now take bitcoin as legal political contributions, but not anonymously, after a ruling by the US federal election commission.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has ruled that politicians and political action committees (Pacs) – independent political campaign groups which don’t have their contributions capped – can accept bitcoin, which must then be treated like other in-kind donations such as stocks and shares.

This means that groups and individuals who accept the currency must convert it into US dollars, and deposit those dollars into a campaign account, rather than spending the bitcoin directly.

But the much vaunted anonymity of bitcoin will not help US politicians: the commission still requires donors to list their names, addresses and occupations before they can donate the digital currency to politicians.

The ruling was made in response to a request by a Pac called Make Your Laws, which campaigns to replace representative democracy with a “liquid democracy” in which individuals are more directly involved with the legislative process.

The Pac had also asked for the ability to spend bitcoins directly, but was rebuffed.

“The Commission concludes that MYL may accept bitcoins,” the report says. “The Commission also concludes that MYL may purchase bitcoins, but MYL must sell the bitcoins it purchases and deposit the proceeds into its campaign depository before spending those funds. The Commission could not approve a response by the required four affirmative votes as to whether MYL may acquire goods and services with bitcoins it receives as contributions.”

Because the commission only ruled on the specific request that Make Your Laws made, the only explicit limit on bitcoin donations is $100, which is the amount the Pac decided to cap donations at. The question of whether or not larger donations could be made, potentially up to the $2,600 limit for US candidates, is left open.

The ruling also does not explicitly address other crypto-currencies, such as Litecoin or Dogecoin, but does set a precedent. The Dogecoin community in particular has an active charitable sector, raising money for such causes as clean water in Kenya, sending the Jamaican bobsleigh team to the Winter Olympics, and sponsoring an up-and-coming Nascar driver.


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