Political campaigns

FTX poured millions into political campaigns before bankruptcy

Three FTX executives donated more than $70 million to both political parties in 2022, ranking third in donations

Former FTX leaders contributed significantly to this year’s midterm elections in an effort to gain influence in Washington. After the cryptocurrency exchange collapsed, the big recipients of FTX donations caught the eye.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried and two other leaders have donated more than $70 million to political parties and groups, making FTX the third-largest donor in the 2022 election cycle.

While Bankman-Fried has donated nearly $40 million mostly to Democratic candidates and liberal organizations, her co-CEO Ryan Salame has donated about $23 million to Republicans and conservative groups in 2022, according to a list. compiled by the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, a group led by economist Stephen Moore, using data from OpenSecrets.org.

The remaining donations came from FTX engineering director Nishad Singh, who gave nearly $13 million to Democrats and liberal causes, according to the data.

A former FTX employee who is familiar with lobbying efforts in Washington and wishes to remain anonymous told The Epoch Times that a significant portion of the executives’ political contributions were used to push for “pro-crypto legislation.” at Capitol Hill.

Bankman-Fried was a vocal supporter of the bipartisan bill, the Digital Commodities Consumer Protection Act of 2022, proposed by Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Cory Booker (DN.J.) and John Thune (RS.D.) to fill regulatory gaps in digital commodity trading. According to the data, he donated approximately $5,800 to each senator’s campaign.

“I am optimistic that the Stabenow-Boozman bill will provide customer protection on centralized crypto exchanges,” Bankman-Fried wrote on Twitter on October 18, expressing its full support.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (DN.Y.), who is expected to succeed Nancy Pelosi as the next House Democratic leader, also received $5,800 from the crypto entrepreneur. Other notable recipients include Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Joe Manchin (DW. Va.), Maggie Hassan (DN.H.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y.).

About $235,000 of Bankman-Fried’s political contributions went to Republicans. Meaning. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) were featured among Republicans who received donations from the crypto entrepreneur.

Protect our future PAC

With nearly $40 million in donations, Bankman-Fried became the Democratic Party’s second largest donor this year, behind George Soros, who gave $128 million.

The majority of Bankman-Fried’s donations, about $27 million, went to the Protect Our Future PAC, a new group that supported candidates committed to preventing future pandemics. And most of that money was spent on the primaries. In the recent election cycle, the group invested about $23.3 million in Democratic Party primaries, which were mostly unsuccessful.

Nearly $10.5 million of the super PAC’s main funding, according to OpenSecrets, went to support family friend Carrick Flynn, who lost by a wide margin to State Rep. Andrea Salinas ( D) in the Democratic primary for Oregon’s 6th congressional district.

According to a Slate article in May, it was an “insane amount of money” for a newcomer to politics.

Bankman-Fried also provided $6 million to the House Majority PAC, affiliated with outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, becoming the fourth individual contributor to the hybrid PAC, according to OpenSecrets. Additionally, he gave $500,000 to the Senate Majority PAC, aligned with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Epoch Times Photo

The crypto entrepreneur also donated $1 million to Beto O’Rourke’s campaign for the Texas governorship, which was the largest donation the Democrat received between July 1 and September 29, according to a report. Bloomberg Tax article.

Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas who just won a third term, reacted to the collapse of the FTX on Twitter.

Epoch Times Photo
Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke speaks to supporters during a campaign rally in Humble, Texas on Aug. 24, 2022. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

“This guy gave Beto a million dollars. This Madoff-style evaporation of clients’ money should be a crime,” Abbott wrote, referring to Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of billions of dollars. dollars in 2008. “Candidates who received this tainted money should return it so that innocent FTX customers can recover some of their money.

In an interview in May, Bankman-Fried suggested he would invest “north of $100 million” in the upcoming presidential election and had a “soft cap” of $1 billion, although he had then backtracked on that statement, calling it a “dumb quote.” ”

The Conservative Donor

While the focus was on Bankman Fried’s donations to Democrats, the data also shows Salame, co-CEO of Bahamas-based FTX Digital Markets, donated about $23 million to Republican politicians. and campaign groups in 2022.

“When you look at FTX’s efforts to influence Washington, you have to look at both CEOs, not just the quirky guy who wears the shorts,” said Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), who is the subcommittee’s chairman. on investor protection and capital markets. , said in a statement, criticizing too much focus on Democrats who received funds from Bankman-Fried.

Salame invested $15 million in his super PAC, American Dream Federal Action, which backed pro-crypto Republicans in the election.

Epoch Times Photo

Bankman-Fried and Salame were also the biggest donors to GMI PAC, a non-partisan super PAC that supports cryptocurrency. Together they donated $3.5 million to GMI PAC.

Salame was also a familiar face on the Long Island campaign trail with his girlfriend Michelle Bond, who ran for the U.S. House to represent New York’s 1st Congressional District but lost in the Republican primary. His opponent, Republican Nicholas J. LaLota, won the November general election.

Other names who have received donations from Salame include Sen. John Hoeven (RN.D.), Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), and Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.). Salame also donated to both Lee Zeldin for the New York gubernatorial race and Blake Masters for the U.S. Senate election in Arizona.

Some politicians on both sides of the aisle who have accepted donations from FTX executives have already promised to give the money elsewhere to distance themselves from the company.

Emel Akan

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Emel Akan writes on business and economics. Previously, she worked in the financial industry as an investment banker at JPMorgan. She earned a master’s degree in business administration from Georgetown University.