The Republican Party of Louisiana (LAGOP) is now accepting contributions in bitcoin via its official website.
Only New York state has made the same move within the Republican Party, as have the Libertarian Party of Louisiana and the Libertarian Party of Texas. The news follows guidance from the US Federal Election Commission (FEC) determining that political campaigns and political action committees (PACs) can accept bitcoin as a form of in-kind donation under current federal election laws.
Speaking to CoinDesk, LAGOP executive director Jason Doré said other states may soon follow suit as their party leaders learn more about bitcoin.
Doré told CoinDesk:
“I think the rise of bitcoin’s popularity and use is forcing many public officials to learn about it. Still, many elected officials are not aware of it. If the bitcoin community embraces the use of bitcoin to support and oppose political campaigns, the role of bitcoin will only grow.”
For the initiative, the Louisiana GOP also partnered with bitcoin fundraising consultancy and services provider BitPolitic, which helped prepare LAGOP to accept bitcoin payments. In turn, BitPolitic takes a percentage of all bitcoin donations, keeping the funds in bitcoin to fuel its business.
BitPolitic provides consulting services to political candidates, campaigns and organizations that want to learn about bitcoin technology and incorporate it into the political system.
The LAGOP is using bitcoin payment processor BitPay to accept donations.
Fears over regulation
Doré said the move by the LAGOP was partly motivated by finding better ways to reach and engage its supporters, but that bitcoin also already embodies many conservative principles, such as embracing innovation and the free market, and opposing inflationary monetary policy.
Unfortunately, Democrats may be likely to target bitcoin for regulation, he said, calling for conservatives to “actively fight attempts to impose crippling regulations on the bitcoin community”.
“We know that the leadership of the Democrat Party has rarely met a regulation and a tax it doesn’t like. We see how Democrat-controlled cities have opposed innovative transportation companies like Uber and Lyft in favor of government monopolies.”
Doré juxtaposed left-leaning attitudes on government taxes and regulation against the inflow of libertarians and conservatives that have publicly embraced bitcoin.
Most of the bitcoin-embracing political candidates on this year’s midterm election ballot are running on the Libertarian ticket.
California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, Colorado Congressman Jared Polis and California Congressional candidate Christina Gagnier are among the few Democrats that accept the digital currency for campaign donations. Although Polis in particular has been an outspoken advocate of the digital currency.
A list of some of the major US political candidates that accept bitcoin can be found here.
The view on the New York BitLicense
In the interview, Doré also took aim at the BitLicense regulations proposed by the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS), which he categorized as demonstrative of New York’s liberal bureaucracy.
“Those who seek to tax and regulate everything they can will certainly be looking to do the same to bitcoin […] These types of regulations are meant to strangle the growing bitcoin community while it is still in its infancy.”
Further, he insinuated that the LAGOP will seek to ensure that Louisiana does not take similar steps that could threaten bitcoin and its innovative potential.
Doré concluded: “In Louisiana, we will continue to take a different approach than our friends in New York by working to create an environment where innovators flourish.”
Disclaimer: CoinDesk founder Shakil Khan is an investor in BitPay.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the LAGOP, not the NYGOP, is the first major state-level executive committee to turn to bitcoin payments for monetary support.