California open to crypto political donations

August 17, 2018
Chris Wheal

California has edged nearer to agreeing that candidates for public office in the US state can accept campaign donations in cryptocurrencies.

The issue was discussed on Thursday at a meeting of the California Fair Political Practices Commission to discuss various election issues in the Golden State.

Commissioners decided against adopting any of the amendments proposed during the hearing, admitting that they don’t yet fully understand the issue. Chairwoman Alice Germond suggested that a set definition of what constitutes a cryptocurrency is needed.

“I would be inclined to think that bitcoin is a thing that is not US money, but is more like a currency like a euro,” commented Germond. “But I would like to hear more to develop my thinking on this.”

Nicolas Hedorn, director of non-partisan political advocacy organisation California Common Cause said that he supported allowing crypto to be used as for donations pending a final decision on the issue, but this suggestion failed to attract support from commissioners.

A cautious welcome

Commissioner Allison Hayward agreed that more information about cryptocurrencies would be helpful and opposed a ban. Ahe recognised that the cryptocurrency industry is still in its early stages, but felt that blockchain technology offered real potential for tracing activity.

She added “I don’t think we’re there yet, but I would hate for something we do to forestall that later on. I don’t know what that would be but … blockchain might be a very useful tool for us and I’d hate to prevent that.”

In 2014, the Federal Election Commission ruled that US federal election law allows for candidates to accept cryptocurrencies like bitcoin as an in-kind donation. However, a suggestion at Thursday’s hearing that allowing a cap of roughly $100 per donation for cryptyocurrencies would be appropriate for this year’s midterm elections.

The Commission agreed to reconvene next month, at which time the issue will be further discussed.



Post written by Chris Wheal
Chris Wheal is editor of OpenLedger's news and features service. An award-wining business journalists himself, he runs a team of freelance journalists from across the UK and north America.

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