California Lawyer is Latest Congressional Candidate to Accept Bitcoin

(@tanayamacheel) | Published on July 28, 2014 at 11:22 BST

Christina Gagnier is the latest US congressional candidate to accept campaign donations in bitcoin.

The Democrat representing California’s 35th congressional district is a business owner and lawyer who specializes in technology and, more specifically, the Internet.

Gagnier said that several of her constituents had asked if she would begin accepting bitcoin donations, and when guidance issued by the Federal Elections Committee (FEC) in May allowed her to, she embraced the idea.

She told CoinDesk:

“My campaign is particularly focused on meeting voters where they are at, whether that’s showing up on their doorstep to see how I can help or accepting a currency like bitcoin as a way to engage someone in the campaign.”

Gagnier has partnered with Coinbase to begin the initiative.

Innovation vs regulation

Gagnier acknowledged that politicians who speak publicly about their positive experiences with digital currencies could help bring them further into the mainstream. In addition, she continued, Congress needs representatives who bring technological fluency to the country’s regulatory body.

“Technology impacts and will impact every single industry,” she said, citing the recurring theme in bitcoin’s development that technology outpaces the law. “Having a Congress comprised of individuals from a variety of the backgrounds is the way that we get regulation that makes sense and is practical for various industries.”

Gagnier is a founding partner of the tech-focused legal firm Gagnier Margossian LLP. She is also the CEO and founder of JobScout, an online platform where job seekers can learn job-hunting skills.

She said that she wants to see digital currency help the growth of small businesses that operate on- and offline, but that there needs to be more guidance and clarity on the subject:

“When each state has their own set of laws dealing with money transmission and now some states seek to independently regulate bitcoin, it can be really confusing to someone who wants to accept or transact with bitcoin. Some federal guidance and a cohesive legal framework would be extremely helpful.”

For example, she said, California’s bill to make bitcoin “lawful money” doesn’t provide regulations “for the issuance and circulation of bitcoin, but it is a good first step to see how these types of currencies can actually work to benefit our local economy”.

The new election environment

Gagnier is one of several US politicians that have publicly embraced bitcoin, and one of a handful accepting online campaign donations in bitcoin.

In light of the increasing public support, the FEC’s new guidance on campaign donations and the forthcoming midterm elections, BitPay recently announced several new partnerships to help political campaigns take advantage of the circumstances.

The payments processor joined with CoinVox, an organization that advises political campaigns on bitcoin compliance, as well as NGP VAN and Targeted Victory, who offer political campaigns assistance.

Gagnier’s campaign is focused on innovation and new ideas to spur economic growth in her district, she said.

California’s 35th congressional district includes Chino, Ontario, Pomona, Montclair, Fontana, Rialto and Bloomington. It is part of the Inland Empire region of the state and sits within both Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties.

Disclaimer: CoinDesk founder Shakil Khan is an investor in BitPay.

Image via Gagnier for California

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