Wisconsin Government Accountability Board Forces Candidate To Return Bitcoin Donation

May 5, 2014 18:38 UTC

This morning, Pfhub reported that Alderman Mark Clear of Wisconsin had returned a Bitcoin donation accepted by his political campaign for State Assembly.  The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) had previously ruled not to allow Bitcoin or any Digital Currency donations given their value fluctuation and non-negotiable value status.  Though people in the GAB have voiced suggestions for Bitcoin donations to be treated as in-kind donations, echoing the current status quo on handling Bitcoin donations around the country, the official word in Wisconsin that is being handed down to all candidates is still this: No Bitcoin donations.

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[dropcap size=small]M[/dropcap]ark Clear runs Accelerate Madison, an advocate for advancements in the technology and software space within Madison, WI.  As such, he is no stranger to the bleeding edge of technology and truly believed that accepting Bitcoin would not run afoul of the law.  Clear was likely encouraged by several other political campaigns around the country that have accepted Bitcoin donations with no problem, though the FEC formally reached a tie vote on the matter back in 2013.  Clear is running for State Assembly and received a Bitcoin donation of 0.2213 BTC, roughly $100 at the time, from supporter Monty Schmidt.

Monty Schmidt writes in his Wuntusk blog that the GAB had previously discussed Bitcoin at length in one of their March meetings.  Unfortunately, this particular point in Bitcoin’s history was particularly slathered in misinformation regarding transaction malleability and the Mt. Gox implosion.  GAB members were concerned that transaction malleability could change the identifying features of a Bitcoin transaction, as the misnomer-of-a-name incorrectly suggests.  Unfortunately, though the GAB meeting was an open session, no Bitcoiners were invited to provide insight.  The GAB decided against Bitcoin donations for Wisconsin political campaigns given the potential issues.  Fortunately, the GAB has specifically stated that they would like to refer to federal guidance in this matter.  The GAB’s Jonathan Becker stated that political campaigns in Wisconsin can not accept Bitcoin donations until the GAB explicitly states that campaigns are allowed to.  He has also made it clear that the GAB would not explicitly state something along those lines until the Federal Election Commission (FEC) releases their official opinion on how to accept Bitcoin donations.

FEC To Release Their Opinion Soon

Luckily for State Assemblyman hopeful Mark Clear and his ardent supporter, Monty Schmidt, the FEC is likely to accept Bitcoin donations of up to $100 worth per recipient, per campaign, per election. The FEC is currently considering a pair of draft advisory opinions that would lay out the guidelines for Make Your Laws, a hybrid Super PAC, to accept Bitcoin donations.  Make Your Laws first appealed to the FEC for a clarification on how to accept Bitcoin donations back in February of 2014.  A few weeks ago, the FEC met in an open meeting and discussed the topic of Bitcoin donations with Sai, Make Your Laws’ founder and head.  The next open meeting of the FEC is scheduled to occur on 5/8/14; there, the FEC is either going to vote on a, yet unreleased, advisory opinion, or they will extend the decision until the next open meeting.  Either way, the FEC is likely to reach their decision within the month.  If Wisconsin Bitcoiners can convince the Wisconsin GAB to revisit the issue after the FEC decision, Monty Schmidt might yet be able to re-return his Bitcoin donation to Mark Clear before election time come November… Provided that Clear is able to win the Democratic party primary first.

You can reach out to Mark Clear to show your support, here.

Last modified: May 5, 2014 18:43 UTC

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