Ireland plans to prohibit cryptocurrency donations to political parties amid fears of Russian election interference in an upcoming set of amendments to its Electoral Reform Bill 2022.
“The appalling invasion of the Ukraine and insidious disinformation war highlight the ongoing fundamental threats faced by all democracies,” said Irish Local Government Minister Darragh O’Brien, who is spearheading electoral reform.
New political integrity rules proposed for the Electoral Reform Bill 2022 will revise political donation rules to minimize the risk of foreign meddling and will also introduce safeguards against malicious disinformation campaigns targeting Irish elections.
In particular, Ireland is concerned that crypto donations can conceal the identity of a donor and increase the likelihood of dark money entering campaigns via foreign governments.
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Ireland is not the only place restricting political donations in cryptocurrencies. In 2018, California banned crypto donations to political campaigns in Bitcoin, citing a lack of transparency. Likewise, North Carolina, Oregon, and Michigan have enacted restrictions on cryptocurrency donations in their campaign finance rules.
Moreover, when some political candidates do accept crypto donations, it can be contentious. In 2018, Brian Forde, a former Obama administration official who penned the White House memo on cryptocurrency, came under fire for his use of Bitcoin donations. Forde was one of the top ten fundraisers among first-time political candidates, and said he opened up Bitcoin donations to facilitate campaign donations from a tech-savvy donor, the co-founder of MIT Media Lab. However, the anti-Bitcoin ad that circulated against Forde described his donors as human trafficking and narcotics supporters.