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Orange County's "Bitcoin Candidate" Wants to Represent Disruptive Tech in Congress

by Wes Messamore, published

2018 may see the first "bitcoin candidate" elected to Congress.

Many political candidates are jumping on the opportunity to raise campaign funds by accepting donations in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, which are free market, private currencies competing against the U.S. dollar and all other sovereign national currencies.

Candidates like Andrew Hemingway who in 2014 became the youngest gubernatorial candidate in New Hampshire history, are making U.S. political, financial, and tech history by accepting digital crypto coins.

Austin Peterson, who is running for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in Missouri this year, has received 24 contributions in bitcoin in 2018, including the largest cryptocurrency contribution in federal election history– worth $4,500 USD.

"Crypto" is short for cryptography, a very clever use of certain mathematical principles to basically scramble digital information into completely unintelligible static that can only be restored to its original, meaningful state with a private "key" (a random string of numbers of letters) kept secret by the key holder.

It's a means of keeping information secure and private, and it is deployed to devastatingly practical effect by many cryptocurrencies as a form of electronic verification to prove mathematically how much money is in each person's account and what transactions have been made between accounts.

In California's Orange County, tech entrepreneur Brian Forde is taking it even further. He's not merely accepting bitcoin for campaign contributions. In his bid for the Democratic Party's nomination to unseat GOP incumbent Rep. Mimi Walters in the crowded race for CA 45, he's dazzling crypto investors with the hopes that he can be the friend they need in Washington.

Forde is a California tech entrepreneur who was a White House senior advisor in the Office of Science and Technology Policy for cryptocurrency in the Obama Administration.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports:

'It’s Forde’s expertise in cryptocurrency that’s attracted marquee Bitcoin evangelists such as Pete Briger of Fortress Investment Group; Brad Burnham of Union Square Ventures; the investor Mike Novogratz; and famed Facebook litigants Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who founded the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange. “Brian understands the power of emerging technologies and how to foster and shape them in a way that has a positive impact on people and organizations,” says Tyler Winklevoss.'


'Forde’s Bitcoin bona fides are so strong that many of those donors have contributed actual Bitcoins to his campaign rather than write a check, the old-fashioned way. Federal Election Commission records indicate that although his campaign is barely six months old, Forde has already amassed more Bitcoin contributions than all previous congressional candidates combined.'

With $1.2 million in total campaign contributions, Forde has amassed a war chest larger than any of the four other Democratic contenders in CA 45. Should he face Rep. Walters in the general election, it will be an interesting race, because Forde represents disruptive Silicon Valley-style finance, and Walters, who has served in Congress since 2015, represents traditional, Wall Street finance.

She was an Investment Executive at a major Wall Street finance company, Drexel, Burnham & Lambert, which was forced into bankruptcy in February 1990 while Walters was working there due to its involvement in illegal activities in the junk bond market.

The traditionally Republican district is very much in play this year.

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