Wisconsin moves to allow cryptocurrency donations in politics

Ethics officials in the U.S. state of Wisconsin are divided on whether to enable political campaigns to accept campaign contributions in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

If Wisconsin approves the relocation, it will sign up with Montana, Washington, D.C., and the United States federal government in permitting cryptocurrency project contributions.

At a hearing on April 24, the Wisconsin Ethics Commission discussed the prospect of allowing digital donations.

However, it did not make an immediate decision, according to a report by WiscNews.

Leading the charge in favor of Bitcoin contributions was the chairman of the Wisconsin Libertarian Party, Phil Anderson.

Anderson argued that cryptocurrencies are becoming widely accepted as currency, saying:

“Cryptocurrencies are more and more widely accepted as currency and as stores of value.

“The Chicago Board Options Exchange offers a futures market for bitcoin.

“And other financial platforms, corporations, and governments are weighing in on, not ‘whether’ to address cryptocurrencies, but ‘how.’”

The anonymity of crypto donations causes concern.

Some commissioners rejected the idea of Bitcoin donations, citing worries that anonymous crypto donations are untraceable.

Therefore, it might open the door to offenses of campaign contribution laws.

Commissioner Pat Strachota said in response:

“If we can’t accurately and immediately describe who are donating these funds, there’s a hesitation on my behalf to allow it.”

Wisconsin State Representative Jimmy Anderson, a Democrat, tweeted that permitting digital currency contributions “is really dangerous.”

“The ability to conceal who is making the contributions alone is going to make this an ethical nightmare.”

In reaction, Libertarian Phil Anderson recommended that Wisconsin follow the Federal Elections Commission’s standards.

The FEC requires that Bitcoin is immediately converted to U.S. dollars and then recorded as an “in-kind” contribution.

The state of California has recommended that politicians decline virtual currencies as campaign contributions.

However, the state does not restrict the practice.

Already in play

The slow adoption of cryptocurrency campaign contributions is surprising considering that a growing number of American politicians are already accepting them.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky famously accepted Bitcoin campaign contributions when he ran for president in 2016.

He ultimately lost to New Yorker Donald Trump.

Rand Paul is a Republican by party association, however, an avowed Libertarian by individual viewpoint, so it’s not a surprise that he welcomes crypto.

Similarly, Missouri Republican Politician Austin Petersen, who’s running for Senate, accepted 24 fractional bitcoin donations (totaling $9,700) in January 2018.

Petersen’s campaign supervisor, Jeff Carson, said accepting cryptocurrencies aligns with his Libertarian political viewpoint.

Speaking to ABC News, Carson explains:

“Austin is personally a fan of competition in the marketplace, even when it comes to our currency.

“With the rise of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, it was a no-brainer for us to use those.”

For many, the hesitation to accept cryptocurrency for campaign contributions seems illogical, as politicians take money from whoever will give it.

Paul Paterakis, press secretary for a New York politician, says:

“It’s just another form of payment.

“It’s a common misconception that bitcoin is truly anonymous.

“It’s not.

“It can be traced on the blockchain (the open ledger) quite easily.”