The Libertarian Party vigorously condemns the trumped-up case against Randall Lord, a former Libertarian candidate, who was sentenced to 46 months in prison for the victimless “crime” of operating an unregistered money service business involving Bitcoin, a digital currency.
Trading bitcoins is perfectly legal. Major retailers such as Microsoft, Expedia, Dell, Overstock, and Whole Foods accept bitcoins. Prosecutors targeted Lord for not being registered with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the U.S. Treasury, and for not being licensed to operate as a money service business in his home state of Louisiana.
Despite his conscientious objections to government currency controls, the Shreveport resident attempted to comply with the laws and regulations governing Bitcoin. He filed for registration with FinCEN, but the bureaucracy misplaced his filing, for which he now faces almost four years in prison.
Lord was not licensed in Louisiana because state officials had told him that Bitcoin is not a currency, and therefore he didn’t have to have a license to operate. Then in March 2013, FinCEN expanded the definition of “currency” so they could pull exchanges like Lord’s under their regulatory control.
Lord pleaded guilty to not having a state license, but later he proved to the court that the state did not require one. Then a federal court ruled that “unlicensed” could also mean “not registered with the Treasury Dept.” and refused to allow him to withdraw his guilty plea and take this issue to trial.
Every aspect of this case is a travesty:
politicians’ insatiable addiction to spending, which they finance by printing dollars out of thin air, devaluing the dollar and in turn creating the demand for alternative currencies such as Bitcoin;
the contemptible government regulations these very politicians enacted to obstruct Bitcoin trading, and which were used to prosecute Lord;
the bumbling FinCEN regulators whose ineptitude set Lord up for prosecution (unless it was deliberate that they “misplaced” Lord’s filing);
the use of multiple taxpayer-funded federal agencies—the IRS, FBI, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service—to go after Lord for openly trading a legal commodity and harming no one;
the failure of prosecutors to show any intent by Lord to violate the law;
the harsh sentence imposed on Lord, which appears intended to intimidate others who trade in bitcoins, much like the life sentence imposed on Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht; and
the government’s as-yet uncertain plans to confiscate Lord’s assets, including possibly his home, adding to his family’s distress.
Randall Lord has long opposed the federal government’s tax-and-spend policies and the Federal Reserve Bank’s manipulation of the dollar. He did his part to try to change these onerous laws and regulations when he ran for U.S. House on the Libertarian ticket in 2014 and 2012, receiving 27 and 25 percent of the vote, respectively.
This case illustrates that the problem is not a well-meaning, civic-minded family man like Randall Lord who offers a service to people aiming to preserve the value of their hard-earned money.
The problem is overspending by federal politicians, their manipulation and regulation of currencies, and grandstanding prosecutors who get rewarded for convicting people rather than for achieving justice.
The solution is to overturn the sentence of Randall Lord, repeal onerous laws and regulations, and stop federal government overspending so that the dollar will stop losing value, jobs will be plentiful, and Americans will be financially secure.