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US Politician Sets Record Straight on Crypto Campaign Donations

US politician Brian Forde published an article Monday criticizing the misinformation around cryptocurrency campaign donations, pointing to a number of areas where these contributions are far more transparent than they are portrayed as in the mainstream media.

Forde has a number of notable achievements in US politics, including serving as Senior Tech Adviser in the Obama administration where he was responsible for bringing the president up to date on Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency industry. During a recent run for Congress in California’s 45th district, he personally collected around USD 300,000 in cryptocurrency campaign contributions.

Clarifying transparency

Addressing claims that campaign donations via digital currency meant that they could not be easily verified by the public, Forde said that all donations were subject to the same standards as fiat. This means any money received must be published with the donors’ full name and address, although publishing the wallet address he says goes against their financial privacy. Although some people have allegedly been calling for the publication of wallet addresses, bank account or credit card numbers where donations are made from are not published.

Forde added that the most anonymous form of payment that could be made would actually be in cash, while the easiest way to make an illegal donation would be with a ”prepaid debit card bought with cash at a convenience store — not cryptocurrencies”.

Because wallet providers in the US are subject to strict know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) policies, Forde argues that that Bitcoin is not a privacy coin, nor is it anonymous.

Unfair claims of crypto’s illicit uses

Another area that he found problematic in media coverage of crypto donations is its portrayal as an asset directly connected to illicit activities, while cash and credit card frauds are left out of the conversation. Pointing to a list from the UK government which asses the different forms of money laundering that has been taking place, he noted that Bitcoin came at the bottom of the list.

”On that basis, the means of payment should not be our litmus test to determine how candidates, or anyone, can or cannot receive money,” Forde writes.

Media coverage suggesting cryptocurrency has been used by foreign actors to influence the US election is misleading, he says. Rather than being used to make direct campaign donations, it has been, in some cases, been used to purchase internet domain names and pay for servers. Saying that the government does not ban foreign actors from using the internet or social media which can also influence the outcome of elections, Forde reasons that this means they should also not be stopped from using cryptocurrency in the ways it has been proven to be used.

 

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US Study Reveals Contentious Opinions on Bitcoin Campaign Donations

A recent study that gauged voter opinions of cryptocurrencies in US political campaign donations has revealed positive yet cautious sentiments.

The survey conducted by research firm Clovr gathered the views of 1,023 registered US voters across a number of areas including financial stability, legality, foreign interference, and political misuse. The results were then further filtered down by political affiliation – Democrat, Republican or Independent.

Acceptance

Of those surveyed, 60% believe that cryptocurrencies and US fiat should be treated as equals for federal elections; the article also makes note that 21% of respondents were opposed to this view.

In 2014, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) established some loose guidelines for Bitcoin donations; summarily, they are permitted, although only in the form of an “in-kind” contribution and limited to an amount of USD 100. By these definitions, digital currencies do not fall on par with fiat currencies as they are treated the same as other in-kind donations such as donated items, equipment and subsidized rent.

With regards to security, a majority (54%) of respondents have faith in cryptocurrency being secure enough to be used for political purposes; a view that was held by relatively similar numbers across political affiliations.

Under half (42%) of respondents reported that cryptocurrencies were stable enough for political purposes, however, 35% believe that cryptocurrency markets are too volatile for political use.

Concerns

Contrasting to those bullish outlooks, a majority of respondents (60%), are of the opinion that cryptocurrencies would make foreign interference in elections more common. Additionally, 62% are concerned that cryptocurrency is more likely to be used illegally within politics, a view that was expressed almost equally across all political affiliations.

In the survey, 64% of respondents agreed that politicians would “take advantage” of the looser regulations surrounding crypto donations; voters from all political parties overwhelmingly voted yes, 26% were unsure and 10% disagree.

The above sentiments are not particularly hard to believe considering that bitcoin was recently linked to the interference of Russian hackers during the 2016 Presidential Elections. Furthermore, political donation opinions in the United States are wrought with complexities, controversies, distrust and other fascinating issues that systemic in US politics.

Crypto-campaigns

In the US this year, there have been some efforts to not only increase the use of digital currencies in political campaigns, but also the use of blockchain technology in mobile voting apps.

In July, a Libertarian Party member who was campaigning for state Governor of Wisconsin announced his acceptance of Bitcoin donations. This move prompted a negative response from the Wisconsin Ethics Commission (WEC) who doubt the legal validity of such a donation. Regardless, the candidate has said that he will “push all the way back” should his announcement be contested.

In August, the North Carolina electoral campaign finance board firmly denied a Republican candidate the right to receive cryptocurrency donations for his campaign. Also that month, a 2020 presidential candidate announced that he would be accepting Bitcoin, Ethereum and any other ERC20 compliant tokens.

 

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