Should Bitcoin Be Used for Campaign Donations?

by | May 21, 2018

By John Frank

Colorado is considering allowing political candidates to accept cryptocurrency for campaign contributions.

The donations -- whether in bitcoin or another digital currency -- would be subject to the same state limits as a cash donation, and the value would be determined at the time of the contribution.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams made the proposal in draft rules presented this week.

The move follows the lead of the Federal Election Commission and other states -- New Hampshire was the first -- which began to allow candidates to accept donations of cryptocurrency in 2014.

"The FEC is doing it now," said Suzanne Staiert, Colorado's deputy secretary of state. "So we are just going along for the ride."

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, now a candidate for governor, said he was the first member of Congress to accept bitcoin, when he received about $2,000 worth for his 2014 re-election campaign.

An FEC advisory opinion, which sets the road map for Colorado's proposal, lays out complicated accounting rules that consider the cryptocurrency an in-kind donation and makes clear that contributions above the aggregate limit for individual donors would need to be refunded or returned.

"It's going to be an accounting problem, potentially, for campaigns who want to use it," Staiert said.

A Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Missouri accepted the largest bitcoin donation in December 2017. The 0.284 of a bitcoin was valued at $4,500.

The Colorado Secretary of State's Office is accepting comments through May 23 on the proposed rule.

(c)2018 The Denver Post