Austin Petersen, a candidate for the US Senate in Missouri, is making some waves as he is accepting Bitcoin for campaign contributions.
It’s a given that you’ll hear complaints about “big money” flowing into campaigns during the election season. Of course, the sad reality is that politicians are bought and paid for all the time as running a campaign is extremely costly. What has become really interesting is seeing cryptocurrency coming into play for political campaigns. A candidate for the US Senate in Missouri, Austin Petersen, is making some news as his campaign is accepting Bitcoin for contributions.
Bitcoin and Politics
Austin Petersen is running as the “opt out” candidate in Missouri. He believes that Americans should be free to choose on whether to participate in government programs, such as Social Security. Petersen was a long time member of the Libertarian party, but he recently switched to becoming a Republican as he felt it was time to take that particular party back to its roots of individual liberty. One way that he’s manifesting his “opt out” mantra and focusing on personal choice is allowing individuals to donate to his campaign with Bitcoin. He says that this allows people to opt out of using the US dollar if they wish.
In an interview with The Wichita Eagle, Petersen goes on to say:
Bitcoin is one of those issues that has actually got a huge community. I mean there are bitcoin millionaires out there. And we might be able to tap into that market because there will probably be no other candidates who will be better on that issue. I really would like to see deregulation on monetary policy.
Cryptocurrency and Carbines
Austin Petersen is not the first politician to accept Bitcoin for campaign contributions. Senator Rand Paul accepted them for his 2016 presidential campaign, and there have been a smattering of other candidates as well. However, using Bitcoin to make a campaign contribution cannot be anonymous. The Federal Election Commission has stated that Bitcoin is an in-kind gift and that they must be properly reported. This means that the donor has to give up their name, address, and other personal information. In addition, the normal campaign contribution limits of $2,700 for individual candidates and $5,000 for multi-candidate PACs still apply.
The Missouri candidate is also making news besides his Bitcoin acceptance. His personal account was recently banned from Facebook for 30 days for discussing a raffle he is holding where a person can win an AR-15 that a donor gave to him. One does not have to make a donation, Bitcoin or otherwise, to take part in the raffle.
Still, it is interesting to see some politicians embracing digital currency. This is hardly surprising as almost every politician is looking to snag as much money as they can, but Austin Petersen is doing so because he says it reflects his anti-centralized authority views. He would love to abolish the Federal Reserve, but he adds:
But barring that, 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: Gold silver and cryptocurrencies, so that they can compete. That would cause a spike in the prices. Decentralization, if it’s good for markets, why isn’t it good for money?
What do you think about Bitcoin and other digital currencies becoming part of political fundraising? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of The Wichita Eagle, Pexels, and the Bitcoinist archives.