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US Election Authority Set to Approve Congressional Candidate's Plan to Issue Ethereum Token

A candidate for Congress in Florida wants to give ethereum-based tokens to campaign volunteers in an experimental effort to incentivize their work — and federal officials appear poised to give their approval.

In late May, the campaign for Omar Reyes, who is running for office in Florida’s 22nd Congressional District as an independent candidate, sent a letter to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) seeking permission for the “distribution to potential volunteers and any voters interested in participating in our cryptocurrency experiment.”

The idea is this: the “Omar2020” token is based on the ERC-20 standard, which allows for the creation of tokens on the ethereum network. According to the Reyes campaign’s letter, the kinds of activities they’d want to reward include registering to volunteer, signing up for a mailing list, or hosting official campaign events.

Further, the campaign’s letter stresses that the tokens “have no monetary value,” and that the tokens would essentially serve as a digital scoreboard for volunteers. As the campaign draws to a close, “our committee would like to reward our volunteers with the highest amount of (OMR) tokens with the choice of one of three gifts of our appreciation, paid for by the Omar2020 committee.”

A draft advisory opinion published July 5 and attributed to FEC chair Ellen Weintraub indicates that officials will give their blessing to the experiment, noting that the tokens themselves are “analogous to more traditional types of campaign souvenirs, such as bumper stickers, yard signs or buttons” and wouldn’t run afoul of federal statutes.

As the draft opinion notes:

“The Commission concludes that the Committee may distribute OMR Tokens to volunteers and supporters as an incentive to engage in volunteer activities as described in the request because OMR Tokens do not constitute compensation; rather, OMR Tokens are materially indistinguishable from traditional forms of campa...
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