Why the Chamber of Digital Commerce’s Spending PAC is Big News

The Chamber of Digital Commerce has registered a political action committee with the United States Federal Election Commission, which means that Bitcoin and other cryptocoin lobbyists in Washington, DC are going to have their voices amplified in the near future.

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Why the Chamber of Digital Commerce’s Spending PAC is Big News

The Chamber of Digital Commerce has registered a political action committee with the United States Federal Election Commission, political news site The Hill reported Monday, which means that Bitcoin and other cryptocoin lobbyists in Washington, DC are going to have their voices amplified in the near future.

“We’re in the very earliest stages of setting up,” Chamber of Digital Commerce President Perianne Boring told The Hill. “We haven’t really decided exactly what we’re doing. We’re just being prepared for next year, is really what we’re doing.”

There are no immediate plans to support specific candidates or initiatives, according to the piece, but the PAC’s formation does put Washington on notice that increased funding for pro-cryptocurrency lobbying could be coming soon.

This is a rather America-centric story, but its impact could have a ripple effect on the entire world.

What is a PAC?

First, it is important to define what political action committees are.

PACs are useful for uniting donations around a specific political cause or perhaps a political candidate. Funds can be used to support specific initiatives or even campaign against a person, an idea or a piece of legislation.

So, as an example, the Humane Society of the United States created an affiliate lobbying organization in 2004 called the Humane Society Legislative Fund that accepts donations which in turn go toward “lobbying to pass laws to protect animals, as well as for political purposes, such as supporting or opposing candidates.”

PACs have certain limits, as specified by the Federal Election Commission:

  • An individual can only donate up to US$5,000 per year to federal PACs.
  • Corporations and unions cannot contribute directly to federal PACs, but they can spend money from their general treasuries to finance the operations of PACs, and they can also sponsor PACs.
  • Corporate-affiliated PACs may only solicit contributions from executives, shareholders, and their families.
  • Union-affiliated PACs may only solicit contributions from members.
  • Independent PACs may solicit funds from anyone, but they have to pay their own costs from those funds, so an independent PAC couldn’t get, say, JPMorgan Chase & Co. to foot the bill for operational costs.

What is the Chamber of Digital Commerce?

The Chamber of Digital Commerce is a non-profit trade organization that was formed in July as a public education outlet as well as a tool for influencing lawmakers and regulators about cryptocurrencies.

“The mission of the Chamber of Digital Commerce is to promote the acceptance and use of digital currencies and digital assets among government and the larger public,” its site reads.

“It is irresponsible and naïve for the community not to get involved with policy makers,” Boring told CoinTelegraph in early August. “The regulations that come out of Washington will greatly affect the future of the industry. At the least, regulation will shape the direction the industry moves, but more importantly, regulation could stifle innovation.”

The Chamber of Digital Commerce was also vocal in trying to get the New York Department of Financial Services to push back its deadlines for public comments on its so-called BitLicenses proposal, which the NYDFS did last week.

Why is this important?

A PAC for digital currencies allows individuals in the US to help fund pro-cryptocurrency legislation, initiatives and candidates. It could also act as a powerful counter to legislation or politicians who could be perceived as antagonists to the crypto economy in the United States.

“[T]here is so much work to do in Washington,” Boring said earlier this month. “We are already behind and have a lot of reputational challenges to overcome.

“Washington is wrapping red tape around the blockchain.  To prevent a sea of further regulations, we are calling on the responsible stewards of this industry to put forth the resources necessary to mitigate regulations that could make it difficult and expensive for businesses to operate in this space.”

The BitLicenses case is a good example of how entrepreneurs, traders and cryptocurrency users around the world keep an eye on events in the United States because regulations coming out of Washington could very well be copied and adopted in other jurisdictions.

As Zane Tackett, manager of foreign operations at Chinese exchange OKCoin, told CoinTelegraph last week, "The regulations implemented in New York will likely be used as a model for other states and countries alike."

In addition, there is something symbolic about cryptocurrency economy participants lobbying DC politicians.

As The Hill piece noted, “formation of the PAC is a sign of increasing maturity for Bitcoin and a signal that politicians could face political pressure to support virtual [sic] currencies.”

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