First State Republican Party Accepting Bitcoin

Bitcoin officially infiltrated one of the two major United States political parties this weekend when the Louisiana Republican Party (LAGOP) began accepting bitcoin donations. “The party hasn’t publicly launched our bitcoin donation page, but the link went live over the weekend,” LAGOP Executive Director Jason Doré told CCN. “We plan to do a public launch later this week.”

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While the Libertarian Party was the first political party to accept bitcoin donations back in April 2013, the Louisiana Republican Party says they are the first major state political party to accept donations via the cryptocurrency. The Democratic Party has not moved to accept bitcoin, however, nearly 30 individual political candidates at all levels around the U.S. currently accept bitcoin donations.

“The Bitcoin market is growing as more and more people begin to use the currency, and companies of all stripes are now accepting bitcoins for payment,” said Dore. “In May of 2014, the Federal Election Commission released an opinion approving of political bitcoin donations. We want to make it easy for all people to get involved in the Republican Party of Louisiana.”

Doré added that the decision was made largely because “innovation and the free market are at the core of what the Republican Party stands for.”

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The LAGOP worked closely with BitPolitic, who setup their donations page.

“They made the entire process painless and made sure to have the system comply with the all the respective campaign finance regulations,”

said Doré.

BitPolitic is a “fundraising consultancy and services team comprised of bitcoin specialists developing and exercising strategic solutions for political campaigns” who provide political campaigns access to bitcoin through a legally compliant bitcoin donation form. A percentage of bitcoin donations are sent to BitPolitic for their services, however they do not charge anything up front.

In May, the Federal Election Commission gave the OK for political committees to begin accepting bitcoin donations, also ruling that political committees can buy and sell bitcoin as an investment as long as all proceeds are converted into fiat prior to being spent. The commission deadlocked on whether political committees should be allowed to spend bitcoins on goods and services.

According to the decision, political committees “must sell the bitcoins and deposit them into a campaign depository within 10 days,” and while they are allowed to purchase bitcoins, “they must also be sold and deposited in the campaign depository before they can be spent. As such, Political organizations do not yet have the OK to pay salaries in Bitcoin, even though many other entities around the world are now trying this out.”

The three Democratic commission members expressed their desire to have bitcoin donations limited to $100 due to concerns over anonymity, but the final ruling did not restrict larger donations, and was only guidance as to what is considered legal.

While the advisory ruling was made to address the legality of bitcoin donations made to the Make Your Laws political action committee, as CCN writer Caleb Chen noted, “It is easily arguable that any political organization regulated by the FEC can follow these guidelines to accept Bitcoin donations.”

Images from Shutterstock.

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