Bitcoin donations are likely to be seen as little more than a novelty in the coming election cycle, but they have already been adopted by a handful of politicians. Polis is joined by Republican Congressional candidate Paul Dietzel and Texas Congressman Steve Stockman in the small-but-growing community of bitcoin-accepting politicians.
Under the FEC rules, bitcoin donations act exactly like donations of stock, commodities or property, being valued at their market price if sold. Unlike cash donations, in-kind donations do not need to be immediately reported to the FEC, and do not need to be deposited into a bank account within a 10-day window. Although these rules work well for non-liquid assets like equipment, vehicles and credit at service providers, just how well it applies to the currency-like nature of bitcoin is still unclear. Donators still need to follow FEC rules when making a bitcoin donation, including basic, personally identifying information with the gift.
Given the relatively shadowy nature of bitcoin, the increasing ease of liquidating a bitcoin supply, and the new ability of campaigns to hold large amounts of bitcoin without having to immediately report it to the FEC, it’s possible that bitcoin could become a new strategic tool for campaigns hoping to manipulate the reporting system.