It’s not unusual for a presidential candidate to make the news headlines but Kentucky Senator, Rand Paul, is showing a flair for the progressive this week, as he became the first candidate to accept Bitcoin donations for his presidential campaign. Many are debating whether the Senator’s move to embrace the digital currency will encourage other candidates to follow his lead.
This weekend, Rand visited the Union League Club in New York, for a private function hosted by Blockchain Technologies Corp, a startup incubator associated with Bitcoin Center NYC.
While the event itself had a closed attendee list, it’s not unusual for the Union Club to be associated with influential US figures. Over the past several months, the Club has hosted former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
Almost a year ago, the Federal Election Commission (“FEC”) gave individuals the green light to make political contributions via the Bitcoin system. A few local politicians have already experimented with collecting donations through Bitcoin, but Paul’s adoption of the popular digital currency into his campaign finance strategy and his attendance at the event this weekend has propelled Bitcoin into the national spotlight.
While Bitcoin still isn’t considered to be a widespread medium of digital currency, there’s no telling what backing from a presidential candidate will do for the company. However it also raises interesting questions about the possibility of illegal fund appropriation.
“The novelty of the payment method is likely to help Mr Rand highlight his edgy appeal to other libertarians, tech-savvy voters, young people and others who favor Bitcoins. But it also raises questions about whether illegal contributions could make their way into campaigns more easily,” stated the New York Times.
Others believe the move to embrace a progressive digital currency like Bitcoin will give the senator an edge with tech-savvy individuals and those willing to recognize a forward-thinking strategy.
“Part of the message he’s sending out to the tech community [is] that, ‘I want to be close to you,’” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association. “And part of it is that he sees a naturally ally there in terms of fundraising and messaging, and I think it will be well-received.”
By attending the event this weekend, Rand Paul is looking to solidify his partnership and support with Bitcoin and will continue to make digital currency an integral part of his campaign finance strategy.