A GOP candidate running for US Senate in the state of Missouri is making big splashes in politics for a Bitcoin donation he received.
On Monday, June 18th, Austin Petersen posted to Facebook that his campaign had received a donation of $130,000 (close to 20 Bitcoins) sometime during the weekend. Unfortunately for Mr. Peterson, federal campaign finance law states that an individual cannot contribute more than $2,700 USD to a candidate per election or $5,400 USD total for the primary and general elections.
Petersen stands out as a political outsider. Though he’s not the first candidate to accept cryptocurrency, he’s one of the few recent candidates tapping into cryptocurrency as a source of campaign funding. Austin Petersen joins the ranks of notable candidates and politicians such as Rand Paul who accepted cryptocurrency during his brief presidential run in 2016. On the other end of the political spectrum, Democratic candidate for Senate Brian Forde has also begun to accept cryptocurrency donations.
Petersen previously ran for the Libertarian party nomination in 2016 but lost to Gary Johnson. Despite the recent turbulence in the cryptosphere, political candidates are finally starting to realize the value of accepting cryptocurrency for contributions.
In the post on Facebook announcing the contribution, Petersen advised the contributor to start a political action committee, a political organization that is allowed to donate higher amounts of funds to political candidates as a form of free speech. This suggests that holders of cryptocurrency could lead to significant change across the nation by way of funding political action committees to support issues significant to the community.
Petersen has stated previously, “I really would like to see deregulation on monetary policy… at a minimum I would like to introduce legislation that would decentralize the monetary unit, the dollar, in such a way as to legalize competition.”
His campaign website utilizes the well-known payment processor Bitpay to facilitate cryptocurrency transactions. Due to rules set by the Federal Election Committee, the funds are immediately converted to fiat currency.
Currently, cryptocurrency is seen as a novelty payment option to candidates. The utilization of crypto for crowd-funding politicians shows a change in understanding amongst the public and legitimizes Bitcoin and as a usable currency.