Sam Bankman-Fried and the executives of his cryptocurrency company have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to House committee members who will hold hearings next month into the company’s collapse.
Bankman-Fried and his FTX co-founders paid nine members of the House Financial Services Committee $300,351, according to Federal Election Commission records. Some of the most significant contributions have been to Democrats on the committee’s Digital Assets Task Force, which has worked on regulating the crypto industry. Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.), who chairs the committee, this week announced an investigation into FTX’s collapse after the company filed for bankruptcy, wiping out billions of dollars in client wallets. The Justice Department and the Securities Exchange Commission are reportedly investigating Bankman-Fried for potential misappropriation of client funds.
Bankman-Fried’s donations to committee members could raise concerns lawmakers aren’t adequately investigating the crypto kingpin, which has spent millions on advertising, lobbying and philanthropic causes to boost its image. his business as an ethical crypto company in an industry plagued by scammers. Of the nine committee members who received contributions from Bankman-Fried, only Rep. Chuy Garcia (D., Ill.) said he would repay a $2,900 contribution from the billionaire. While Waters said the committee would investigate the “collapse” of FTX, the Democrat apparently has no intention of examining Bankman-Fried’s efforts to buy favors from Washington.
Waters dodged questions this week about whether she was concerned about Bankman-Fried’s political donations. “Well, I don’t want to go into the details. In fact, both camps, Democrats and Republicans, received donations,” she told Fox Business.
While Bankman-Fried has donated to Republicans, more than 95% of his contributions have gone to Democrats and Democratic committees. Along with top FTX executives, he contributed seven Democrats and two Republicans to the Financial Services Committee. They gave five members of the committee’s Digital Assets Task Force, which Waters launched last year to “support responsible innovation that protects consumers and investors” and to develop regulations for the industry. To date, the Digital Assets Task Force has not proposed any regulation for the industry, which some lawmakers say would have lessened the impact of FTX’s bankruptcy on its customers.
Garcia was the biggest beneficiary of Bankman-Fried’s money. Bankman-Fried’s political action committee, Protect Our Future PAC, spent $199,851 on ads supporting Garcia, who sits on the committee’s digital assets task force. Bankman-Fried contributed an additional $2,900 to Garcia’s campaign.
Bankman-Fried and associates gave four other members of the Digital Assets Task Force, Representatives Ritchie Torres (D., NY), Josh Gottheimer (D., NJ), Jim Himes (D., Connecticut) and Sean Casten (D., Ill.).
Bankman-Fried and his brother Gabriel donated $40,300 in all to Torres’ campaign and two of his political committees, the Torres Victory Fund and La Bamba PAC. Bankman-Fried and the head of FTX’s regulatory division gave Gottheimer $16,600, while other Bankman-Fried associates paid Himes $500 and Casten $9,100.
Casten has another connection to the beleaguered crypto titan. Gabriel Bankman-Fried, who leads his brother’s political outreach, worked as a congressional aide for Casten until last year. He traveled to the White House on March 7 with an adviser from the Alliance for Democracy, the progressive network funded by Democratic billionaire donors.
Bankman-Fried paid $11,600 to House Financial Services Committee members Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D., Mass.) and $5,000 to the super PAC for Rep. Cindy Axne (D., Iowa), a apparent violation of his self-imposed promise to reject corporate campaign donations.
His intensive lobbying campaign seemed to bear fruit before his company disappeared. He supported legislation proposed by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) and Sen. John Boozman (R., Ark.) that would have brought the crypto industry under regulation by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and not bigger and more aggressive securities. and exchange commission.
Bankman-Fried donated $5,800 to Stabenow’s campaign in February and $20,800 to his joint fundraising committee in January. Bankman-Fried gave Boozman $5,800 in January and $5,800 to committee member Sen. John Hoeven (R., ND) in June. He donated a total of $31,000 to Sens-related campaigns and joint fundraising committees. Cory Booker (D., NJ), Tina Smith (D., Minn.), Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D., NY), who serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee.
The 30-year-old entrepreneur donated $5 million to a super PAC that backed President Joe Biden in 2020 and $40 million this cycle, largely to Democrats. He contributed $6 million to the House Majority PAC, $1 million to the Senate Majority PAC and nearly $900,000 to the Democratic National Committee.
The donations secured him meetings at the White House and appearances earlier this year at the annual Democrats retreat in Philadelphia. Bankman-Fried has visited the White House three times this year with lobbyists from his firm, the Free Washington Beacon reported. They met on April 22 and May 12 with Steve Ricchetti, one of Biden’s closest advisers. Bankman-Fried testified before the House Financial Services Committee on Dec. 7, where he said his goal in starting FTX was “to have a positive impact around the world.” He appeared on a panel with Waters at the Democratic retreat in Philadelphia in March and was photographed arm-in-arm with the committee chair after the event.
Waters’ office did not respond to questions about Bankman-Fried’s donations to committee members.
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