A congressional candidate in Florida wants to give the campaign volunteers a token based on Ethereum to motivate their work. This is an experimental move, and federal officials seem ready to approve the act.
In late May of this year, Omar Reyes' campaign team submitted a letter to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) requesting approval to "distribute cryptocurrencies to potential volunteers and any voters interested in participating in our cryptocurrency experiments." Reyes is currently running as an independent candidate for a member of the 22nd District of Florida.
The "Omar2020" token is based on the ERC-20 standard, which allows the creation of tokens on the Ethereum network. Reyes’ campaign team said the token’s rewards range from being a volunteer, registering a mailing list or hosting an official campaign.
In addition, they stressed in the letter that these tokens “have no monetary value” and will essentially serve as a digital scoreboard for volunteers. As the event draws to a close, “our committee will select the volunteers who hold the most PMR tokens and they can get gifts from the Omar2020 committee.”
The draft advisory opinion on this matter was announced on July 5. Ellen Weintraub, chairman of the Election Commission, said officials expressed support for the experiment and pointed out that the token itself is "similar to traditional campaign souvenirs, such as bumper stickers and slogans used in the yard", without violating federal regulations.
The opinion draft reads:
“The committee concluded that the campaign team could distribute OMR tokens to volunteers and supporters to encourage them to engage in the volunteer activities described in the letter, as OMR tokens do not constitute financial compensation; instead, OMR tokens and traditional campaigns Souvenirs are essentially indistinguishable, and there are no provisions in the bill or committee regulations that prohibit the campaign committee from distributing free campaign souvenirs to volunteers or supporters."
Weintraub stated in the opinion draft that it is expected that the transaction costs incurred by the money transfer will be reported by the Reyes campaign team in the form of expenditures.
According to the FEC document, the public consultation period for the exposure draft has ended at noon on Wednesday, US Eastern Time. The members of the committee will now meet to consider the draft opinion. The next meeting is scheduled to take place on July 25th, but the agenda has not yet been announced.
At the time of writing, representatives of the Reyes campaign team had not responded to requests for comment.
FEC and cryptocurrency
This is not the first time an FEC official has faced a choice related to cryptocurrency.
For example, FEC recently considered whether the campaign could accept cryptocurrency mining incentives. In April of this year, FEC finally approved this form, but also warned that such activities are not voluntary activities.
To date, the organization's most influential decision has come from 2014, which opened the door to cryptocurrency donations for the campaign. At the time, FEC said it would treat bitcoin donations as in-kind donations.
This move laid the foundation for political activity in the United States, including Kentucky Senator Rand Paul's 2016 presidential campaign.
In 2020, Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang also accepted a password currency donation. This spring, his campaign team released a policy statement on blockchain and digital assets. In May of this year, at the CoinDesk 2019 Consensus Conference in New York, Yang promised to provide clearer regulation for the industry.