Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who today formally announced his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, has begun accepting bitcoin donations.
Donors can select bitcoin from a number of available payment options, with bitcoin payments being enabled by processor BitPay.
Paul is perhaps the most high-profile American politician to accept bitcoin donations, and latest of a number of state and national Republicans to turn to the digital currency for fundraising support.
Last year, the US Federal Elections Commission gave its approval for bitcoin fundraising as a type of in-kind donation. States like Tennessee have since made some progress in clarifying those rules on the state level.
Paul touched on the subject of bitcoin earlier this year during a panel discussion led by TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington. Calling himself “an outlier” on “the bitcoin thing”, the senator acknowledged his skepticism toward the digital currency.
“I’ve been fascinated by the concept of it, but I never would have purchased it myself. I’m just a little bit skeptical,” he said at the time, according to a report from Bloomberg News.
During a 2014 interview, Paul suggested that the concept of digital currencies could be improved if they were backed by stocks.
An opthamologist by trade, Paul was elected to the US Senate in 2010 with significant support from the Tea Party movement, a collection of right-wing and libertarian-leaning groups that has since proven to be an influential – and controversial – force within the American political landscape.
Paul is one of several candidates, including Texas Senator Ted Cruz, that will compete for Tea Party support during the Republican presidential primary.
Disclaimer: CoinDesk founder Shakil Khan is an investor in BitPay.