Two California Democrats running for Congress are at odds over one's decision to accept bitcoin contributions. In his campaign ad, ex-SEC attorney Dave Min slammed former Barack Obama aide Brian Forde for accepting BTC political donations.
"Brian Forde's big donors? Bitcoin speculators who oppose cracking down on drug deals and human trafficking," Min's ad trumpeted.
The video suggested that cryptocurrencies are only good for illegal activities, and that crypto investors are all potential criminals.
In the ad viewed by Motherboard, Forde's smiling face is superimposed against a grainy background image of a menacing-looking hacker in a hoodie.
The state of California has recommended that politicians not accept virtual currencies as campaign contributions, but does not prohibit the practice.
Forde is a cryptocurrency bull who was previously senior advisor to the Obama administration on digital technologies. He's outraged by Min's campaign attack ad, which he slammed as "reckless."
'Reckless and Sensationalist'
“These comments about my supporters are sensationalist, wildly inaccurate, and in line with my opponent’s lack of understanding of the technology,” Forde told Motherboard. “If they were speculating, they wouldn’t have donated to my campaign in bitcoin. They didn’t 'HODL.' They donated to my campaign in bitcoin because they believe in the technology.”
Forde said part of the reason why he's running for Congress is to shine a spotlight on the potential of new technologies such as crypto, which he believes is misunderstood by the public.
Min is a law professor at the University of California at Irvine who was previously an enforcement attorney at the Securities and Exchange Commission.
His rep told Axios that Min "is a huge believer in the potential of distributed ledger technology," but has "deep concerns about the deregulatory agenda being pushed by bitcoin and cryptocurrency enthusiasts."
Senator Rand Paul Accepted BTC
This is not the first time that cryptocurrency donations have been a bone of contention in politics.
In April 2018, ethics officials in the state of Wisconsin debated whether to allow political campaigns to accept crypto-contributions, as CCN has reported.
No final decision was reached, but if Wisconsin approves the move, it will join Montana, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. federal government in allowing cryptocurrency campaign donations.
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky famously accepted BTC contributions when he ran for president in 2016. He eventually lost to Donald Trump, but made history for becoming the first U.S. presidential candidate to accept bitcoin to fund his campaign.
Paul is a Republican by party affiliation, but a libertarian by personal philosophy, so it’s no surprise that he embraces crypto.
Meanwhile, if California congressional candidate Dave Min is concerned about the lack of regulation in the cryptocurrency industry, he may be heartened by recent developments.
Since April 2018, U.S. and Canadian regulators have launched 70 investigations into crypto scams and fraudulent ICOs as part of a coordinated crackdown across North America called “Operation Crypto Sweep."
SEC Chair Praises 'Operation Crypto Sweep'
The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) sent cease-and-desist letters to sham ICO operators in more than 40 jurisdictions across the United States and Canada. And that's just in the past month.
Operation Crypto Sweep is just getting started. The wide-ranging fraud crackdown won praise from SEC chairman Jay Clayton, as CCN has reported.
“I applaud our fellow regulators in the United States and Canada who are coordinating and participating in efforts to police fraud,” Clayton said. “The enforcement actions...should be a strong warning to would-be fraudsters in this space that many sets of eyes are watching."
Many crypto evangelists welcome some regulation because ridding the space of con artists benefits the entire industry. The vast majority of market participants are law-abiding people who get lumped in with the few bad actors making all the headlines.
Featured image from Flickr/Joi Ito.