Political Watchdog Commission, Say No to Bitcoin Campaign Donations

LOS ANGELES, Thursday, September 20, 2018 — California Common Cause today urged the California Fair Political Practices Commission to not allow campaigns to accept crypto-currency until the emerging technology is better studied and understood. Read the letter submitted to the commission.

Statement from Executive Director Kathay Feng:

“One of the fundamentals of a functioning democracy is great transparency around who and where money is coming from in support of candidates and ballot measures. The Political Reform Act enacted by voters states: Receipts and expenditures in election campaigns should be fully and truthfully disclosed in order that the voters may be fully informed and improper practices may be inhibited.

“Our concerns are that crypto-currency may lead to international transactions, illegal money laundering and bundling, and other violations of disclosure laws. In light of the evidence coming out at the national level about Paul Manafort’s dealing with Russian oligarchs funneling money to shell organizations to evade disclosure and lobbying rules, these fears are no longer so abstract. Even in California, our own FPPC has levied the highest fines against a similar shell game funneling millions of dollars into a campaign from two out of state organizations.

“The challenges with crypto-currency, which by its very design is created to protect the identity of sources of funds, create a very real threat to the corrupting influences of special interests seeking to disrupt our elections or hide their identities. The reality is that our enforcement staff are taxed as it is following the paper trail of investigations. They are not currently equipped or staff to engage in cyber-sleuthing that allowing crypto-currency donations would require.”

The commission voted 3-1 to disallow the contributions.