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FEC mulls approving bitcoin donations to political campaigns

Sept. 12, 2013 at 11:38 AM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. elections watchdog is mulling if it should allow contributions to political campaigns of virtual coinage that can be used for real-life goods.

The Federal Election Commission has until Oct. 28 to issue an advisory opinion on so-called bitcoin donations after a conservative political action fund asked permission to accept and spend the virtual currency, The Hill reported.

While bitcoins exist only online, they can be used to buy real-world goods and services, and have gained acceptance by a growing number of Internet retailers.

"We know people want to use this," said attorney Dan Backer, who filed the FEC request on behalf of the Conservative Action Fund Political Action Committee. "If they want to use it, we want to let them. "

FEC approval isn't a sure thing because the virtual currency has come under scrutiny from federal regulators since its owners are anonymous and there is no central managing authority, The Hill said.

Several campaigns and political organizations have begun to accept bitcoin donations, The Hill said, based on its search of several campaign websites indicated. The review indicated donations of bitcoins is popular among Libertarians.

The Libertarian National Committee accepts donations in bitcoins, executive director Wes Benedict told The Hill, noting the party's platform that states, "Individuals engaged in voluntary exchange should be free to use as money any mutually agreeable commodity or item."

"We don't favor one currency or form of payment over another," Benedict said. "Many constituents asked us to offer the bitcoin option, so we made it available."

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