A candidate for the US House of Representatives said today that he has begun accepting bitcoin donations.
Patrick Nelson is running for the seat in New York's 21st Congressional District. According to a report in February from regional newspaper The Times Union, Nelson filed to run in January.
A Bernie Sanders supporter and a former staffer in the New York State Legislature, Nelson is advancing a progressive campaign plan ahead of the election in November 2018. He is one of three candidates seeking the Democratic nomination, public records show.
In statements, Nelson, who is taking contributions through payment processor BitPay, echoed that forward-looking agenda when announcing the move to accept donations in bitcoin. Nelson took donations in bitcoin for a previous campaign, when he unsuccessfully ran for a seat on the Stillwater Town Council in 2015.
"Our goal in this campaign has been and continues to be bringing 21st Century policies to the 21st District," Nelson said. "That means we embrace innovation and new technologies like the blockchain and bitcoin."
The US government gave its approval for political campaigns to accepting donations in 2014 when the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) outlined the rules for doing so.
A contribution in bitcoin – which currently has a cap of $100 per donor – is considered as a form of "in-kind" donation, by which people can give valuable assets to a campaign that may later be sold. Once sold, campaigns have 10 days to put the proceeds generate into their official campaign depository.
Other candidates for public office in the US have accepted bitcoin donations in past election cycles. These include Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who made waves when he started taking contributions in the cryptocurrency during the 2016 presidential election.
Yet as previous reported by CoinDesk, the FEC is considering whether to change its rules on bitcoin donations. During a meeting last September, commissioners began discussing whether to treat bitcoin like cash.
Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in BitPay.
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