Bitcoin contributions to PACs - CAF's request

Our Bitcoin request

In August 2013, the Conservative Action Fund PAC (CAF) asked the Federal Election Commission whether they should be permitted to accept contributions of Bitcoin.

We commented on that request extensively, raising several issues with it that CAF failed to address. Though the underlying issues are complex, there were three main problems:

    transparency and auditability — Bitcoin is designed to protect its users' privacy; political contributions need to be traceable to a real person and limit anonymous contributions

    prevention of money laundering, financial exploitation, and legal loopholes — people can abuse Bitcoin "refunds" or contributions between different types of political organizations

    legal and technical catch-22s — Bitcoin intersects campaign finance law in some non-obvious ways

The FEC wasn't able to decide on CAF's request. They agreed informally that PACs should in principle be allowed to accept Bitcoins, but couldn't formally agree on how. Nevertheless, some political committees are already accepting Bitcoin, without any guidance about how one could obey the law while doing so.

On February 10th 2014, we submitted our own advisory opinion request (AOR), proposing how we intend to accept Bitcoins.

Timeline and documents of CAF's request

2013-08-13: CAF filed their advisory opinion request.

2013-09-16: BitPay and the Bitcoin Foundation commented on the request.

2013-11-07: The FEC posted a draft advisory opinion.

2013-11-12: MYL submitted a comment pointing out several problems with the proposal, and suggesting ways to fix them.

2013-11-13: The FEC posted two new draft advisory opinions, and we submitted a supplemental comment about new issues therein.

2013-11-14: The FEC held an open meeting in which they decided (meeting audio), in part based on our comment, to wait a week and draft a new response.

2013-11-16: We filed comments to address issues discussed in the FEC's Nov 14th meeting.

2013-11-20: The Bitcoin Foundation also commented, and the FEC issued their fourth draft opinion, which would have allowed disbursement of Bitcoins.

2013-11-21: The FEC deadlocked 3-3 (audio).