Coming soon to a political campaign near you: Bitcoin donations? The Federal Election Commission is poised to determine rules governing donations made in Bitcoins and how they apply to political campaigns. Attorneys for Conservative Action Fund PAC asked the agency decide if political candidates and outside groups are allowed to accept the digital currency, in addition to U.S. dollars. “As increasing numbers of individuals trade in Bitcoin, political parties and candidates also wish to accept and spend this new currency,” Dan Backer of DB Capitol Strategies wrote in the request. The request lays out 24 technical questions for the FEC regarding the use of Bitcoin as political contributions. Backer told POLITICO that he expects that by 2014, many federal candidates will be interested in accepting the currency — and that many donors will demand it. “We see a real future for this, especially among libertarian-minded supporters,” Backer said.
Backer said that a few PACs and minor party candidates had already decided to take Bitcoin donations — but that the rules about their use were not clear. Backer said he wants further FEC guidance on the rules.
Among the technical questions for the FEC: do Bitcoin donations to a candidate count as either a monetary contribution or an in-kind contribution? Does the FEC consider Bitcoin a currency or a good?
And like many national currencies, Bitcoin fluctuates in value. When exchanges for the currency first debuted, a single bitcoin was worth no more than a few dollars. Individual Bitcoin are now worth more than $100 a piece.
The currency — which is traded on multiple 24 hour-a-day/7 day a week exchanges — poses a problem for some campaigns and PACs, which are limited by law in how much money they can accept.