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Colorado Congressman to Accept Campaign Donations in Bitcoin

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis said his office worked for weeks on his Bitcoin website in anticipation of the FEC ruling to allow political contributions in the digital currency.

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, announced Thursday that his re-election campaign will begin accepting donations in the increasingly popular digital currency bitcoin.

The move came just hours after the U.S. Federal Election Commission's unanimous vote to allow political contributions in bitcoin.

Polis said his office worked for weeks on in anticipation of the FEC ruling.

The site launched shortly after the vote, and the Boulder Democrat is believed to be the first in Congress to accept bitcoin donations.

"There's enormous interest in digital currency, including bitcoin," Polis said Thursday. "It's very exciting that the FEC is keeping its regulations up to date."

Polis said the move fits well in his district, a hotbed for tech startups.

"I think it's appropriate the congressman from the area would be the first to use (digital currency) for donations," he said.

Polis has long been an advocate for bitcoin, even poking fun at paper currency to make his point.

Two months ago, in a tongue-in-cheek letter to Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen in response to a senator's call to ban bitcoin, Polis said the dollar bill is unregulated and unstable, and urged regulators "to take immediate and appropriate action" to limit its use.

One of the main benefits of digital currency, supporters say, is that it does not go through any bank, and thus is more secure and less susceptible to forgery and theft.

"If you have cryptocurrency, it's your money and you're responsible for it," said Matt Bernier, organizer of the monthly Denver Crpytocurrency Meetup. "There's nobody who can take it from you."

Bernier said the FEC's bitcoin ruling represents progress both technologically and politically.

"It's going to get the more tech-savvy people interested in these campaigns," he said. "And for the political campaigns themselves, if somebody gives you a $20 donation, you get your 20 bucks.

"If I was to donate using my credit card, the processors would take a fee off the top. With cryptocurrency, the network itself processes the payment. You're getting the entire sum of the money that was donated to you."

©2014 the Daily Camera (Boulder, Colo.)