Some candidates this election season are accepting donations they can’t deposit in the bank or jingle in their pockets.
Republican Consultant Matt Mackowiak says the digital currency known as Bitcoins tend to appeal to Libertarian voters and the candidates trying to tap their wallets as well as their votes.
“Generally those kinds of people are Libertarian because they oppose the Federal Reserve and monetary policy. And they want to see reforms and changes. So the kind of campaign and candidate who would become aware of Bitcoin has supporters who are aware of it,” said Mackowiak.
Texas Congressman Steve Stockman, in his unsuccessful U.S. Senate primary campaign, was among the first this year to say he’d accept the virtual money which is not backed by the FDIC and is traded without using banks.
In his bid for governor Republican Greg Abbott is also accepting Bitcoins. Figures for how much he's received in digital donations wasn't immediately available.
Mackowiak says Abbott’s coffers are already bulging with hard, cold cash. So Abbott can afford to experiment with this speculative money that’s basically unregulated.
“If he’s going to be messaging to Libertarian and tea party communities, which I’m sure he will in the general election to some extent, it’s a great way to try to earn financial support from those communities.”
Mackowiak says what may seem as a far-out, unreliable way to collect donations is really part of a trend to use technology in campaign fundraising.
“Online is the most effective way to contribute right now, and it’s the most efficient way for campaigns to receive donations,” said Mackowiak.
“But you’re even seeing things like text-messaging which I think was approved in the past 12 months as a method of contribution for campaigns.”
The Federal Election Commission formally approved Bitcoin donations for presidential and congressional candidates in May.
The Texas Ethics Commission says they’re also acceptable for statewide candidates like Abbott as long as the contributions come from permissible donors who properly disclose their gifts.
(Photo Credit: Pierre Sibileau/Flickr)