Political fundraising has always been a murky business, and new innovative technologies have proven to be very useful in political campaigns. Kentucky Senator, Rand Paul, recently announced to the surprise of many in the political arena, that he was going to accept Bitcoin donations for his presidential campaign. While several political figures have already warmed up the the digital currency, Paul is the first Republican to start accepting bitcoin.
While bitcoin transaction are publicly viewable, the digital currency is pseudo-anonymous, and some have raised the possibility of potential illegal contributions making their way into Senator Paul’s fund. Under current federal regulations, donations from foreigners and corporations to individual candidates are prohibited. Bitcoin payments due to their nature, provide a way to bypass those restrictions. However, bitcoin donations are currently legal, as of a recent ruling by the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
The FEC may be very approving of digital currencies, but some in the Democratic party do not share the enthusiasm. Commissioners such as Elle L. Weintraub, have taken a much more cautious attitude towards allowing digital currencies into the electoral process. Weintraub, believes that bitcoin donations should only be allowed if rigid limits are placed (e.g. $100 maximum). Rand Paul, does not see eye-to-eye with Weintraub. Paul has been a long time critic of the government’s excessive surveillance techniques, and he would like to show young voters that new technologies have a place in the political machine.
The decision to accept bitcoin donations, is part of an comprehensive election strategy orchestrated by Paul’s campaign manager, that is designed to appeal to the tech-savvy younger generation. Bitcoin donations currently being sent to Rand Paul’s campaign will only be accepted if they are less than or equal to $100 in value, any bitcoin donation above that threshold are currently rejected.
Rand Paul’s vote of confidence in bitcoin, is not likely to go unnoticed by other candidates. It will not be surprising, if other presidential candidates elect to follow Paul’s example.