Senate Dem praises ‘important step’ on bitcoin

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) is cheering the Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) move to allow political campaigns to accept the virtual money bitcoin.

The action is an “important step,” said Carper, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, in a statement on Friday.

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“I commend the agency for establishing what appear to be clear rules for the road regarding how individuals can donate bitcoins to political funds, while still maintaining transparency and ensuring donors are fully identified,” he said. “I hope other regulatory agencies take note of the agency’s leadership in this area and begin offering guidance for how consumers can use virtual currencies within the bounds of the law.”

On Thursday, the FEC issued a unanimous memorandum allowing a political action committee to accept up to $100 worth of the money, which is the maximum contribution an individual is allowed to make in cash, while also collecting identifying information about the contributors.

Bitcoins only exist online and allow users to spend money relatively anonymously, which has raised concerns about anonymous political spending and, more broadly, their ability to be used by terrorists and drug dealers.

The $100 limit and the offer to collect people's names and other information seemed to soother over skeptical members of the FEC.

Supporters of the virtual currency leaped on the announcement.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), who has been bitcoin’s most prominent backer in Congress, almost immediately started accepting bitcoins for his reelection campaign. In just a day, he reportedly already raised more than $1,000 worth of the currency.

Proponents say the cryptocurrency allows people to transfer money easier than traditional methods and could dramatically transform the way people buy and sell things.