Rand Paul made headlines back in April by becoming the first major U.S. Presidential candidate to accept bitcoins for campaign contributions. A staffer for the campaign told us that it was a success and estimated that the campaign had raised “about” $33,000 through bitcoin donations alone “about a week” before the June 30th reporting deadline.
Far from an official number, the Staffer immediately asked that we not quote the campaign on that figure, which was admittedly only a rough estimate based on his memory of the last time he checked the numbers. The campaign did promise us more concrete figures but, despite multiple assurances and several requests by Miningpool, that information has not been forthcoming. We have since reached out multiple times through email and phone but have not received a reply.
Specifically, the call took place on June 14th and the Staffer stated that the last time he checked “about three weeks” earlier, the number was “about $33,000.” He also assumes that the number continued to rise before the June 30th reporting deadline and that trend has presumably continued into July.
When we called the campaign, we identified ourselves as press before asking about the figures. We were given the $33,000 estimate but it was heavily stressed that it was not an official number, so when we reiterated that it was for a story, they asked that we not quote the campaign. But without further cooperation from the Paul campaign, we have no choice but to report on the information we were given.
It is likely the figure is off slightly and it admittedly only covers up to a period roughly a week before the June 30th reporting deadline, but it is all we have to go off of at the moment because the Paul campaign accepts bitcoins through a payment processor and not with a dedicated donation address. There is nothing dishonest about that method, as it likely makes it easier for them to report the figures to the FEC and has privacy advantages for any Paul contributor.
Nevertheless, without the Paul campaign’s participation, there is no way for us to accurately determine Paul’s bitcoin contributions without comment from either them or their payment processor. Regardless, $33,000 is nothing to sneeze at and would make Bitcoin donations, if they were counted as one contributor, tied for Rand Paul’s sixth largest contributor, just above Koch Industries, the American Bankers Association and Citizens United, according to OpenSecrets.org.
On the other hand, Paul’s campaign has received over $5,294,304 from “Individuals/Persons Other than Political Committees” (which would include corporations) for the period of April 1st to June 30th, according to disclosure reports filed at the FEC. Acknowledging the fact that the $33,000 in bitcoin donations figure is a week behind the campaign’s reported numbers, it only accounts for 0.6% of Paul’s total individual contributions. In addition, those contributions only account for contributions to his actual campaign and not any SuperPAC organizations working towards the cause of Rand Paul’s campaign.
Presumably, the Paul campaign has received more donations in the form of bitcoin in the month of July and the number is now significantly higher, but it is impossible to extrapolate how much from the limited and unofficial number we were given.
Again, it is important to point out that this is not an official number, and is outdated as well. However, it does showcase that Bitcoin donations have been a successful venture for the Paul campaign. It may not have replaced the need for all his other contributors, but it has earned a spot as a significant contributor to his campaign and that is not insignificant. Other candidates would be wise to take note of Paul’s success, as the Libertarian Party’s 2012 candidate Gary Johnson’s website Fairdebates.com recently started doing.
We will continue to reach out to the Paul campaign for more concrete numbers.