Colorado's governor now accepting crypto for donations

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis speaks at ETHDenver, a conference for investors in the cryptocurrency ethereum on Feb. 18, 2022. (Michael Ciaglo / Getty Images)

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Back in February, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced that the state would soon begin accepting cryptocurrency for tax payments and potentially other transactions. At the time, he called it a “very low-cost and consumer-friendly way” of embracing digital currencies, which have enticed a growing number of elected officials around the country.

On Thursday, Polis extended that friendliness by saying he’ll now take contributions valued in cryptocurrency for his re-election bid this fall.

“My administration is committed to making Colorado a hub of cryptocurrency and blockchain innovation for years to come,” Polis said in a press release. “While political contributions only scratch the surface of what this critical technology is capable of, I hope that my campaign accepting crypto donations will invite more Coloradans to learn about and unlock the boundless potential of the blockchain.”

Polis’ fundraising site now lists several crypto denominations, including mainline tokens such as bitcoin and ethereum, as well as so-called “memecoins,” like dogecoin and Shiba Inu coin.

Polis’ campaign does not appear to plan to hold on to any crypto contributions and said it will immediately convert any donations to U.S. dollars. The donation page is hosted by BitPay, a payment service provider for merchants who want to accept cryptocurrency from their customers, but deposit funds in fiat currencies issued by a central bank. Crypto donations also can’t exceed $100 in value, in line with Colorado’s campaign-finance laws.

The immediate conversion back to dollars is consistent with Colorado’s plans to take tax payments in cryptocurrency: When he announced that option, Polis said the state would cash out immediately, acknowledging the volatility of speculative assets like bitcoin.

“It’s a valid point on both the public and private side that you’re engaging in transactions on crypto, taking the speculative risks and holding the crypto is different than simply handling it for the purposes of the transaction,” he told reporters in Washington in February.

But Polis has encouraged the cryptocurrency industry to invest in his state, including a keynote address at a recent Denver conference for ethereum investors. He’s also said little about the large amounts of energy used to mine bitcoin and other digital coins, though earlier this week his office told Colorado Public Radio that crypto miners in the state “are encouraged to use renewable energy.”

Polis’ campaign also said the governor, who was elected in 2018, is the first Democratic gubernatorial candidate to accept donations in cryptocurrency, which has been more popular with Republican candidates. (A fundraising committee backing Nikki Fried, a Democratic candidate for governor of Florida, began taking crypto donations in January.)

While Polis’ courtship of the crypto industry mirrors that of other officials, including New York Mayor Eric Adams — who boasted of using the entirety of his first three paychecks this year to buy cryptocurrency — the governor has said he doesn’t own any himself.

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Bitcoin, Colorado, cryptocurrency, Jared Polis
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