Cryptocurrencies and U.S. politicians have not been strangers to each other, not at least since much recently. Reports emerged earlier this week of House Judiciary Chair, Bob Goodlatte admitting to involvement in trade of crypto coins and being in possession of digital assets of worth between $18,000 and $70,000. Now, another ‘pro-bitcoin’ name from the U.S. senate is in the headlines as U.S. Senate candidate, Austin Petersen, who has been known for his crypto-advocacy has lost the Republican primary election, on August 7.
According to unofficial results published by Missouri Secretary of State, Petersen lost the election battle to Attorney General Josh Hawley, who received 58.6 percent of the 663,553 votes. Hawley will move forward to face Democratic Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill in the general election proper. Petersen conceded via his tweet:
Sorry I couldn’t pull out a win for us, friends. My faults as a candidate are my own, and not the fault of our activists. I am not a perfect messenger. One day soon I believe we will see more leaders who rise up and fight for our cause more fiercely and more successfully than I.
The Largest Crypto Donation
Petersen, accepted the largest single bitcoin donation in federal history and was also made to return several six figure crypto-donations due to financial regulations imposed by the Federal Election Commission. According to the finance reports published by the commission, Petersen received a donation worth 0.284 of a Bitcoin – which at that time was valued at $4,500. This amount exceeded the limit set by the Federal Commission per candidate which was $2,700. The candidate’s website explained that the first $2,700 would go toward activities in the primary election, while the remaining amount would be used in the general election.
Petersen’s campaign manager Jeff Carson said:
I think it goes without saying we’re going to see a lot more of [cryptocurrency] in terms of campaign contributions and campaign financing… Austin is personally a fan of competition in the marketplace, even when it comes to our currency. With the rise of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, it was a no brainer for us to use those.
ABC news had reported that the Missouri Republican candidate received around 24 crypto-donations worth around $9,700 in total, the largest of which was worth $4,500 for the campaign, which is the single biggest Bitcoin donation in U.S. federal history. This also opens up debate about cryptocurrencies in politics, political donations and transparency. Petersen’s campaign serves as a milestone in Bitcoin and crypto-assets as a new means of increasing campaign contributions through digital currency donations.
Bitcoin Turning into a Political Currency
However, this isn’t the first time such digital asset has been invested in an election campaign that has come into the fray. Rand Paul, during his rather studious 2016 Presidential Campaign, accepted Bitcoin. Other congressional and Senate campaigns have also accepted Bitcoin, with Jared Polis in 2014 being the first congressional campaign to accept Bitcoin. The Federal Election commission has moved to provide guidance and particularities to voters regarding use of cryptocurrencies as a form of donation towards election campaigns in an attempt to hinder such donations and increase transparency in U.S. election campaigns.
For crypto-supporters, Petersen’s campaign served as an opportunity to add a crypto-friendly voice to the Senate. That too, at a time when legislators and lawmakers are becoming ever more concerned about developing laws and regulations toward the nascent rise of digital currencies in the United States. But despite garnering endorsements from several state-level Missouri politicians, Petersen finished a distant third, receiving 8.2 percent of the vote and coming in just behind Tony Monetti, who had been endorsed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Petersen’s candidacy to prove successful was always a long shot, as the Republican National Committee (RNC) has already begun campaigning for Hawley, long before the primary. Hawley had also won endorsements from major local newspapers, including the Kansas City Star, who said that many of Petersen’s ideas are “best left to theoretical discussions in academia, or ignored altogether.”
Crypto Political Future
With ever growing crypto possession among the investment class in the country and with further maturity expected of this bracket, this new cluster of wealth could well become a possible future political asset and a form of donation for all political parties.
Some also argue that this could help further promote cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies with lawmakers. As more politicians start to accept Bitcoin, the more the political class will start to become more workable in regard to the crypto lobby’s overall demands in terms of public policy development and enactment, as taken by the Federal Election Commission itself, that approved Bitcoin donations to political committees.
However, this ‘largest ever’ Bitcoin donation represented less than 3 percent of Austin Petersen’s overall campaign donation total. The dollar, therefore, still reigns supreme in the context of party political contributions but Bitcoin could one day surpass the incumbent in the pursuit of political influence.
For Austin Petersen, however, this served as the second consecutive election defeat as he previously ran for president as a Libertarian party candidate during the 2016 presidential election, only to finish second in the primaries to former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who ultimately received 3.28 percent of the popular vote.