Inside the NRCC’s Plan to Accept Crypto Donations

Inside the NRCC’s Plan to Accept Crypto Donations


The National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) is the first major congressional campaign group to accept cryptocurrencies in the U.S. Its chair, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) says this move comes at donors’ request.

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Political donations

The narrative

The NRCC is among the first major political groups in the U.S. to accept cryptocurrency donations, which could signal further acceptance of virtual assets as a value transfer tool. What’s more interesting is this adoption is being spearheaded by crypto champion Tom Emmer, a congressman from Minnesota and the NRCC’s chair. He says it’s coming from because some donors want to pay in crypto. 

Why it matters 

Cryptocurrency adoption in the U.S. will be driven partly by how crypto is  used, and partly by how it’s perceived. U.S. lawmakers accepting crypto for donations may have an impact on both these aspects. Lawmakers receiving crypto will become more comfortable with it, which could lead to more awareness and maybe even positive sentiment toward crypto usage during congressional hearings. 

Breaking it down

The National Republican Congressional Committee will accept crypto donations in the near future, after having announced the move earlier this month. BitPay, a payment processor four months removed from settling sanctions violation charges, will convert cryptocurrencies into fiat before sending the donations to the campaign wing.

“This is something that I was interested in doing here at the NRCC last cycle, but really what’s happened is I started to get donors saying ‘I would contribute crypto if you take crypto,’” Emmer said of the move.

Emmer’s own campaign has accepted crypto since August 2020, after working with BitPay last year.

“We’ve been talking about this ever since I’ve had this job and my campaign started accepting cryptocurrency,” Emmer said. “In fact I think Jared Polis (D-Colo.) might have been the first member of Congress to accept cryptocurrencies for his campaign, and I’m not sure why others didn’t follow suit.”

Dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s took less than a month after the final decision was made, he said. 

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has allowed political campaigns to accept crypto since 2014. Emmer said the NRCC’s team has worked with the election watchdog to ensure NRCC donations are above board.

“My understanding is that our lawyers cleared this with the FEC with ethics, that’s all been addressed. My office, we did [speak to the FEC] for my personal campaign,” he said. 

Still, it’s unclear when the NRCC will actually begin accepting crypto. A spokesperson for BitPay said the committee was still being integrated. 

When the feature goes live, donors can donate bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ether, XRP, dogecoin, DAI, wrapped bitcoin, USDC, GUSD, PAX and Binance USD.

These potential crypto donors want Congress to take more action on the virtual currency industry, he said.

“I’ve been engaging with this community all across the country now for more than just the last two years, and I would say with each month the engagement grows,” Emmer said. 

He pointed to plans to provide financial services to unbanked individuals as one example. 

“Frankly, the last administration had fits and starts in this area,” he said. “If we don’t get moving on this, you’re going to have a whole bunch of really smart entrepreneurs, and the capital that they are raising to create these opportunities, leaving the United States to start these things elsewhere.”

Biden’s rule

Changing of the guard

Key: (nom.) = nominee, (rum.) = rumored, (act.) = acting, (inc.) = incumbent (no replacement anticipated)

Nothing new to report here. 

Elsewhere: 

Outside CoinDesk:

  • (Financial Times) Earlier this year, the Ransomware Task Force published a report stating that bitcoin is ransomware developers’ cryptocurrency of choice for payments. The Financial Times is now reporting that groups deploying ransomware are increasingly looking to privacy coin monero.
  • (United Nations) The U.N. published a report criticizing bitcoin’s energy use, but saying the underlying blockchain technology shows promise. 

If you’ve got thoughts or questions on what I should discuss next week or any other feedback you’d like to share, feel free to email me at nik@coindesk.com or find me on Twitter @nikhileshde

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