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GAB to consider bitcoin campaign finance

Some of Bitcoin enthusiast Mike Caldwell's coins are pictured at his office in this photo illustration in Sandy, Utah, January 31, 2014. REU
Some of Bitcoin enthusiast Mike Caldwell's coins are pictured at his office in this photo illustration in Sandy, Utah, January 31, 2014. REU

MADISON, Wis (WRN)  The state Government Accountability Board is being asked to take another look at allowing candidates for state offices to accept contributions using bitcoin.

The GAB recently told Madison Alderman Mark Clear to return a bitcoin contribution he received because the online currency is not an approved method for donating to state candidates. Clear is running for an Assembly seat and wants the board to reconsider the issue, after the Federal Elections Commission recently said bitcoin can be used by federal candidates. The Democrat made the request during a recent GAB meeting.

The FEC said contributions to federal candidates using bitcoin are acceptable, with a value of up to $100. Clear is suggesting a cap of $50 in Wisconsin, with a requirement that the currency be converted as quickly as possible before campaigns can access the money.

Bitcoin is a digital currency with a fluctuating value, which has prompted concerns that a donation worth $50 one day could be worth a significant amount more in just a few days.

Clear says bitcoin should be viewed as another method of conducting a transaction between a donor and campaign committee, similar to a credit card or online payments through a service such as PayPal. He says the benefit to bitcoin is that the fees can be lower than other methods of transferring money, which reduces costs for candidates and expands their options.

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