Rep. Polis and West Virginia senator spar over dollars and bitcoins

Michael de Yoanna | Boulder Weekly

Rep. Polis and West Virginia senator spar over dollars and bitcoins 

Since January of 2013, Jared Polis has received $568,821 in net campaign contributions, more than $123,000 of it his own money. What’s unclear in our analysis of the Democratic congressman’s Federal Election Commission filings is how much of those funds will be bitcoins. The controversial currency created in 2009 by someone using the alias Satoshi Nakamoto eliminates the need for banks, can be used to make purchases anonymously and are a go-to standard for foreign currency speculators. While the Defense Department has launched a study to determine whether bitcoins threaten American national security, the FEC has ruled that people can plunk down a limited number bitcoins to back their favorite political candidates. Polis quickly announced with a donation-friendly website that he’s “proud to be one of the first members of Congress to promote personal financial freedom” by accepting bitcoins and has so far raised about $1,500 from 39 donors since his announcement earlier this month. Polis, who became an online millionaire before entering Congress, seems a perfect match for the pioneering bitcoin. In March, he sent a letter to federal regulators calling for a ban on U.S. dollar bills, a currency he believes is unstable and linked to illicit activities such as drug trafficking. “The very features of dollar bills, such as anonymous transactions, have created ubiquitous uses from drug purchases, to hit men, to prostitutes, as dollar bills are attractive to criminals who are able to disguise their actions from law enforcement,” Polis writes in his March 5 letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen and others. Polis’ letter was strikingly similar to one by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., urging the government to ban bitcoins. “The very features that make bitcoin attractive to some also attract criminals who are able to disguise their actions from law enforcement,” Manchin wrote to Lew, Yellen and others. “Due to bitcoin’s anonymity, the virtual market has been extremely susceptible to hackers and scam artists stealing millions from bitcoins users.”

Food activists plan march against Monsanto 

Although the titanic Monsanto chemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation is headquartered in Missouri, activists around the globe, including Boulder County, are preparing to mobilize on May 24 to take issue with genetically-engineered foods also referred to as GMOs. Groups are being organized in several locations around Colorado, including Boulder, Longmont, Loveland, the Vail Valley, Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo, according to international organizers for the March Against Monsanto. The event aims to raise concerns about environmental and health risks associated with Monsanto products, including the company’s seeds. Josh Castro, an organizer for marchers in Ecuador, highlighted concerns in poor countries, saying that “biotechnology is not the solution to world hunger… GMO crops cross pollenate with traditional crops, risking peasant farmers’ livelihood.” Last year, a large group — including many families with children — marched against Monsanto in Boulder, carrying signs raising health concerns about GMOs and praising the benefits of organic foods.

— by Michael de Yoanna