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Oregon in the Crypto World
Can candidates accept Cryptocurrency as campaign contributions?

Up to this point Cryptocurrency regulation has been state-by-state. However, Congressman Paul Gosar from Arizona has introduced the Crypto-Currency Act of 2020. It follows a push by the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency to consolidate real time payments (RTP) licensing regulations at the federal level. The patchwork of regulations has deterred cryptocurrencies from the U.S. market leaving us trailing.

Congress is currently grappling with how to get the U.S. into the crypto world and make it easier for businesses, institutions, and Americans to participate. The Crypto world is not waiting for Congress to act. U.S. banks are providing RTP and seeking regulation to stabilize the market on the world scene. More than 150 countries have crypto markets leaving the U.S. in the dust. The Swiss parliament just passed the Blockchain Act with overwhelming approval creating the most favorable regulatory environment for digital assets in the world.

Since 2014, the Federal Elections Commission has allowed contributions to federal candidates in bitcoin, allowing campaigns to hold them as investments or liquidate, but are not allowed to use them for purchases. That was the position of the Oregon Secretary of State, “Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology are here to stay, and Oregon is at the forefront of adapting to this modern reality.”

Even with availability for processing through banks (ORS 717.200), the 2019 Oregon Legislature passed HB 2488 prohibiting contributions to political candidates, a political committee or a petition committee using cryptocurrency. The prohibition was passed even though on July 1, 2018 OAR 461-145-0583 was adopted requiring Cryptocurrency to be treated the same as cash. The bill gives the State Treasurer the power to determine whether cryptocurrency payments are authorized.

Oregon’s State Treasurer, Tobias Read, has expressed concern about allowing for cryptos for political donations. Read has said that the move could make the state’s campaign finance system less transparent. His concern is that it could lead to so-called straw donors trying to donate and conceal their contributions. This concealment is a crime, he stated. However, that was countered by Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services illustrating that cryptographic hash includes an algorithm with a unique string of characters representing the data input, such as history, description of the transaction, and time.

Senator Boquist objected to the prohibition explaining, “Limiting political contributions is probably appropriate. However, the regulation of currency is restricted to the federal government under the U.S. Constitution. Why this is suddenly a ‘state’ issue raises questions in its own right.”

For now, Oregon candidates will have to wait on federal regulation to stabilize the marketplace before Oregon will reconsider allowing candidates to accept cryptocurrencies.


--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2020-09-16 12:21:44Last Update: 2020-09-16 14:56:01



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