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Worse Than ‘the Russians’: Kansas Panel Prohibits Bitcoin Campaign Contributions

Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:01 PM
Josiah Wilmoth
Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:01 PM

A Kansas state government commission has ruled that candidates running for office in state and local elections will be prohibited from accepting bitcoin campaign contributions.

As reported by the Lawrence Journal-World , a local media outlet, the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission has decided to bar Kansas politicians from accepting bitcoin donations when running for public office in state or local elections, citing concerns about bitcoin’s pseudonymity.

Mark Skoglund, the commission’s executive director, stated that the ruling was prompted by a candidate who inquired about the legality of accepting bitcoin donations.

The Federal Election Commission allows candidates running for national office to accept bitcoin campaign contributions and even stated that campaigns could invest in bitcoin under limited circumstances. A variety of candidates have taken advantage of this opportunity, most recently Austin Petersen, a Republican who is running to represent Missouri in the U.S. Senate.

Petersen told CCN.com that cryptocurrency “represents the future of American creativity and American liberty,” which is why his campaign accepts bitcoin donations:

Bitcoin’s disruptive influence is just what our financial system needs at this time….Cryptocurrency represents the future of American creativity and American liberty, and I’m delighted to accept campaign donations in this form.

However, Kansas does not have a law governing cryptocurrency campaign donations, and Commissioner Jerome Hellmer explained that the commission is concerned that it is too risky to allow campaigns to accept bitcoin donations without standardized reporting procedures. He argued that lobbyists would be able to take advantage of bitcoin’s pseudonymity to influence local elections. He also suggested that bitcoin could have a more detrimental effect on elections than alleged Russian interference had on the 2016 U.S. presidential election:

“The greatest problem would be the strong probability of the influencing of local elections by totally unidentifiable lobbyists trying to come in,” he said. “If you think the Russians affected the presidential elections, just wait. This is what’s going to happen.”

Hellmer added that bitcoin’s opacity is antithetical to the “transparency” that elections commissions are supposed to ensure. “It’s totally contrary to the transparency we’re asking for our political system to provide to the public,” he concluded.

Featured image from Shutterstock.