US Presidential Candidates Embrace Bitcoin (BTC) Donations
Presidential Candidates in the United States are accepting campaign donations in Bitcoin.
On Friday, Vivek Ramaswamy and Robert F. Kennedy Jr, both announced their intention to accept BTC donations ahead of the 2024 primaries.
RFK Jr Becomes First Presidential Candidate to Accept Crypto
Robert F. Kennedy Jr, who is vying to become the next Democratic presidential nominee, made his announcement on Friday during the Bitcoin 2023 convention in Miami. In doing so, his campaign became the first in U.S. history to openly accept donations in cryptocurrency.
Speaking to a crowd of BTC enthusiasts, Kennedy said that “almost everyone in this room is aware of the link between Bitcoin and democracy and freedom.”
Going on, he pledged to be an advocate for cryptocurrency if he becomes president. “I will make sure that your right to hold and use Bitcoin is inviolable,” he told the audience.
During his speech, Kennedy laid out plans to defend Americans’ rights to hold and mine BTC.
He also promised to ensure industry-neutral energy regulation that doesn’t penalize Bitcoin miners. He then insisted that the cryptocurrency isn’t a security and said he would ensure it is not declared as such.
Stating his intention to make the U.S. a dominant player in the crypto sector, the presidential candidate said he would improve the policy environment, making it more favorable to crypto firms. “I will reverse the government’s growing hostility toward this industry,” he emphasized.
In comments that will appeal to libertarian crypto advocates, Kennedy even hinted at a presidential pardon for Ross Ulbricht. The founder of the Silk Road darknet marketplace is currently serving two life sentences for multiple charges. “I will consider whether they were prosecuted for actual crimes or as a means to crack down on crypto,” Kennedy stated.
Republican Candidate Vivek Ramaswamy Uses BitPay to Accept BTC Donations
Not to be outdone by the Democrats, the Republican party has its own Bitcoin champion in Vivek Ramaswamy.
Just hours after Kennedy made his seminal announcement, Ramaswamy tweeted that his campaign would also be accepting BTC donations. Sharing a BitPay donation link he asked followers to give one dollar. “Let’s make 2024 an election on fiat currency,” the tweet concluded.
After following the link, U.S. citizens are invited to donate up to 6,600 USD worth of crypto. As well as Bitcoin, BitPay’s payment service supports other cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin Cash, Ether, Litecoin, and Dogecoin.
Anyone who donates to Ramaswamy’s campaign is then eligible to mint a commemorative NFT using the Proof of Attendance Protocol (POAP).
Lawmakers Look to Curb Crypto in Campaign Finance
Kennedy and Ramaswamy may be the first U.S. presidential candidates to officially incorporate crypto into their fundraising efforts. But crypto donations themselves are nothing new to politics.
In Ireland, last year the government banned all crypto donations to political parties. The decision was made over concerns that cryptocurrencies could be used to obscure the source of funds.
And in February, lawmakers in the Kansas House of Representatives introduced a bill proposing to amend the rules on political campaign donations.
The legislation would ban crypto contributions of more than 100 USD for any political candidate in the state’s primary or general election. Even for donations under the hundred-dollar threshold, recipients would need to immediately convert their donations to dollars.
FTX Political Donations in the Spotlight
Moves to reign in the role of crypto in campaign finance come as political donations made by Sam Bankman-Fried’s collapsed business empire are coming under intense scrutiny. The FTX founder was one of the U.S.A.’s largest political donors. During the 2021/2022 election cycle, he reportedly spent close to 40 million USD.
And neither was he alone. Other FTX executives also splurged on campaign donations.
As part of an investigation into FTX’s collapse, a property belonging to the company’s former co-CEO was recently raided by the FBI. Agents searched the residence of Ryan Salame, with many speculating that the raid was related to political donations. Salame reportedly donated around 24 million to political campaigns.
Nishad Singh, FTX’s one-time engineering chief was also a prominent political donor. Singh pleaded guilty to fraud and campaign finance charges in February.
Meanwhile, the bankrupt exchange is demanding that recipients return their donations. In a bid to claw back funds for creditors, the company has threatened to sue political campaigns that don’t reimburse the money they received.
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