FTX’s Bankman-Fried donated nearly $40 million to this political cycle. Here is who benefited.
Federal records have shown that Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced founder of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, was a prolific political donor, pumping some $40 million in this cycle alone into campaign committees and other groups, most of them aligned with Democrats.
His contributions are under scrutiny as federal prosecutors alleged Tuesday that Bankman-Fried violated campaign finance laws by soliciting donations from his crypto hedge fund, Alameda Research, and falsely reporting them as originating from other people.
His generosity to democracy causes over the past two years has been surpassed only by George Soros, the liberal financier. Bankman Fried claimed to give as much to GOP causes, but through nonprofit groups that are under no obligation to disclose their donors. Much of the money Bankman-Fried gave went to super PACs. These groups, which can accept unlimited individual and corporate contributions, must remain formally separate from campaigns because they run ads or sponsor other communications. Support or oppose the candidates.
Federal campaign files show he gave a total of $7 million to the two major PACs that support Democratic candidates for Congress in the 2022 election. He also gave to groups focused on voter turnout and, in some cases, cashed out millions for very specific races.
Bankman-Fried also gave 95 percent of the money to Protect Our Future, a start-up PAC aligned with Democrats that supports a wide range of candidates and causes. Its leaders describe it as committed to the principles of effective altruism, an approach to philanthropy that seeks to leverage data to allocate money effectively, in many cases to long-term threats. Among the causes championed by the Protect Our Future candidates was pandemic preparedness.
Protect Our Future has spent more than $10 million supporting an unsuccessful candidate in the Democratic primary for an open seat in the US House of Representatives in Oregon. The candidate, Carrick Flynn, is an advocate of the philosophy of effective altruism that is said to have guided the PAC’s bid. (He lost the primary to Rep. Andrea Salinas, who won the general election.)
Bankman-Fried has acknowledged in interviews over the past several weeks that corporate philanthropy, including his own, is often designed to elicit good PR.
His desire to spread his resources widely is evident in the number of politicians he has supported: he has contributed to more than 60 federal candidates, including members of both parties representing all parts of the country. In contrast to his donations to super PACs, Bankman-Fried faced limits on these contributions. Federal law says individual donors can give up to $2,900 directly to the Candidates Committee per election—which means once in the primaries and again in general, up to a maximum of $5,800 per cycle.
This analysis counts contributions and refunds to and from federal political committees that are disclosed as made or received by Bankman-Fried in reports filed with the FEC since 2020. This excludes contributions to joint fundraisers and channel committees to avoid counting funds back when they are These contributions are later transferred to campaigns and parties. This does not count funds disclosed as given by other FTX employees, the company itself, or any funds provided through groups that do not disclose donors.
Editing by Mike Madden, Kate Rabinowitz, and Carly Dumb-Sadoff.
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