FEC Weighs in on Bitcoin

ATTORNEYS AT THE Federal Election Commission released an advisory opinion yesterday approving Bitcoin, an electronic currency, as a legitimate form of in-kind contribution.  The draft opinion is a direct response to a request made in August by the Conservative Action Fund (CAF), which sought approval for the use of bitcoins in political fundraising.  CAF essentially wanted to know two things: firstly, “whether it may accept Bitcoins as contributions from individuals otherwise lawfully able to contribute,” and, secondly, “whether CAF may then itself contribute, sell, or directly spend these Bitcoins.”

The FEC has responded with a yes and a no.  Yes, bitcoins may be accepted as a form of contribution; but no, they may not be spent in turn.  In the attorneys’ own words:

The Commission concludes that CAF may accept Bitcoins as in-kind contributions under valuation, reporting, and disbursement procedures, as described below. CAF may not, however, make disbursements using Bitcoins. Instead CAF must sell its Bitcoins and deposit the proceeds in its campaign depositories before using the funds.

One can learn about the arguments for and against the use of Bitcoin in politics here.

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