Elections Canada posted earlier this week a draft of an open discussion on the status of cryptocurrency in campaign contribution law, leading a discussion on if and how digital currencies could be used to donate to a political campaign.
The notice said, among other things, that “cryptocurrencies have traits of both money and property,” which means that cryptocurrencies, in theory, could be accepted by campaigns as donations, given that both money and property are generally allowed in campaign contributions- the notice goes on to note that cryptocurrency does present some legislative problems.
One of the most salient is the built-in anonymity of cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrencies indeed present a problem given that donations worth over $20 require that the donor be publicized. This presents a problem for cryptocurrency, and its easy to see how a corporation or individual could circumvent these kind of laws and opaquely buy a political campaign for their own benefit.
Post-election Update: We received on October 27 a Bitcoin donation which was not included in the pre-election filing. Happy to report this was the 2nd BTC donation received, we expect more during the next campaign! Amended reports have now been filed (to a shuttered FEC!). pic.twitter.com/ISoK3PBijv— Joe for Virginia (@joeforvirginia) January 8, 2019
The notice suggests that perhaps Elections Canada might ‘ask a political entity to submit the transaction history of its digital wallet as a supporting document, in the same way that it might request a bank statement.’ Unfortunately for this plan, privacy coins and donors who obfuscated the history of their transactions would be able to fairly easily circumvent this kind of oversight.
So far, no party has responded to Election Canada’s notice, but responses are forthcoming, and will reveal not only the approach that Canada is taking in integrating digital currency into political donations, but likely the path that other legislative bodies will begin to take.