US congress

Following the unanimous decision yesterday by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to approve the acceptance of bitcoin donations for political campaigns, Democrat Jared Polis has already started accepting bitcoin for his re-election campaign.

The campaign committee, Jared Polis for Congress, announced yesterday that the Colorado Representative was one of the first politicians to accept digital currencies.

Donations can be made on Polis’ website, which was launched shortly after the FEC vote yesterday.

In a written statement, Polis said:

“I am thrilled that the FEC has chosen to take a forward-looking stance on digital currencies, recognizing the rights of individuals seeking alternatives to government backed currencies to participate in our democratic political process.”

The FEC ruling in question came after months of debating. There are still many restrictions on bitcoin donations in political campaigns, such as no anonymous contributions, and donations must be scrutinized for ‘evidence of legality’.

Bitcoin believer

Jared PolisPolis has been one of the more vocal advocates of digital currencies in the US Congress.

In February, Senator Joe Manchin wrote an open letter to the regulatory agency arguing that bitcoin is “disruptive to our economy” and should be banned.

In response to Senator Manchin’s plea, Polis wrote satirical letter to the US Treasury requesting a ban on physical dollars, saying:

“The exchange of dollar bills, including high denomination bills, is currently unregulated and has allowed users to participate in illicit activity, while also being highly subject to forgery, theft, and loss.”

Polis’ spokesperson Scott Overland clarified for those who didn’t pick up the irony in Polis’ letter that the Congressman was simply joking.

“This is just a satirical version of Senator Manchin’s letter, meant to draw attention to the fact that BitCoins are not any more susceptible to the problems that the Senator points out than dollars,” said Overland.

Polis was also the first congressman to publicly buy bitcoin, after inviting ATM maker Robocoin to give a presentation at Capitol Hill on 8th April. He said that he planned to buy a new pair of socks with the bitcoin he purchased on the day.

Polis also added in his statement from yesterday:

“Bitcoin, and other digital currencies, are just beginning to show the world what a tremendous tool they can be; whether it is reducing transaction costs in developing nations, giving people more options for engaging in commerce, or sending Representatives dedicated to advancing personal freedom to Congress.”

More key players

Polis may be leading the pack, but other US politicians are starting to get behind bitcoin.

Entrepreneur Paul Dietzel (Republican) has also announced today that he is accepting bitcoin donations for his Congress campaign on his Twitter feed. If elected he would become the the youngest Congressman in the country.

Additionally, Steve Stockman of Texas has been a vocal opponent of the federal policy. At the beginning of the year, Congressman Stockman announced that his campaign was going to start accepting bitcoin donations for his Senate run.

He is also preparing a bill to tax bitcoin as currency instead of property, as currently demanded by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

In March, CoinDesk reported on bitcoin’s growing role in US politics.

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