Republican US Senate candidate Austin Petersen, who is running in the 6 November 2018 election for a seat in Missouri, was forced to return a USD 130,000 Bitcoin donation due to campaign finance laws. This isn’t even the first time Petersen has been forced to return large Bitcoin donations during his campaign; he had to return two USD 250,000 donations earlier in 2018.
The Federal Election Commission has legalized the use of Bitcoin for campaign contributions, on the condition that the Bitcoins must be returned if it exceeds the donation limit, is from a prohibited source, or is illegal in any other way. The market value at the time the Bitcoin is received specifies the USD value of the contribution. Political donors who use Bitcoin have to disclose their identity and anonymous donations must be returned.
Petersen recommended that the donor send USD 5,400 so it falls within the federally-mandated individual limit. and to start a political action committee (PAC) so that the donor could use an unlimited amount of money to promote Petersen as long as the donor doesn’t directly coordinate with Petersen’s campaign.
In February 2018, Petersen received the largest legal Bitcoin donation in US political history: BTC 0.284 worth USD 4,500 at the time, within the donation limit set by the Federal Election Commission. This sparked optimism that Bitcoin could be useful in the future as a mechanism for campaign contributions and financing.
The reason Petersen is getting so many Bitcoin donations is that he has made very positive statements regarding cryptocurrency. He says that the federal government has too much control over currency and that the decentralized nature of Bitcoin is a disruptive influence that can bring positive change. He says cryptocurrency is the future of American liberty and creativity. He has reportedly been willing to accept Bitcoin donations through BitPay since 2017.
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