Sam definitely deserves thumbs-up for jumping into the donation game hard. He's still only in sixth place. Who's top dog? The wonderful patron of the progressive arts and financier to Kim Fox, the one the only, often imitated for seldom duplicated George Soros. Click for the full list.
Sam Bankman-Fried, FTX Team Among Top Political Donors Before Bankruptcy
Founder focused on contributing to Democrats, while a fellow executive backed GOP
By Paul Kiernan and Stephanie Stamm, WSJ
Updated Nov. 20, 2022 11:50 am ET
FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried and members of his team rose from relative obscurity in Washington to be among the biggest donors in U.S. politics, contributing more than $70 million to election campaigns in less than 18 months.
Mr. Bankman-Fried personally gave $40 million to politicians and political-action committees ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, mostly to Democrats and liberal-leaning groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign donations. Ryan Salame, another top FTX executive, donated more than $23 million, mainly to Republicans and conservative groups.
With FTX’s contributions, crypto became one of the biggest-spending industries in politics during the most-recent election cycle, with campaign donations that exceeded those of the defense and auto industries combined, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. FTX’s financial collapse unfolded the same week as the midterm elections, followed by Mr. Bankman-Fried’s resignation.
“I’m not going to pass judgment until we see what the details are,” said Rep. Tom Emmer (R., Minn.), one of dozens of politicians whose campaigns received money from FTX and its executives, on the firm’s conduct leading up to its bankruptcy filing. He said Mr. Bankman-Fried is “a very likable young man.”
FTX-related political donations accounted for most of the crypto industry’s spending.
The recipients of FTX’s largess included official campaigns and fundraising committees affiliated with either political party, as well as PACs. The biggest single recipient was Protect Our Future, a group that said it is “an organization designed to help elect candidates who will be champions for pandemic prevention,” but that also supported pro-crypto candidates, official data shows. The group received $27 million from Mr. Bankman-Fried and an additional $1 million from Nishad Singh, an FTX executive.
Mr. Bankman-Fried personally contributed the individual maximum of $5,800 to Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) and John Boozman (R., Ark.), respectively the chair and ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, who co-introduced a bill this past summer that would have given FTX a path toward regulatory compliance in the U.S. He also made maximum donations to Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), Cory Booker (D., N.J.), Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) and Susan Collins (R., Maine), among others, as well as dozens of House candidates.
Mr. Bankman-Fried was the No. 2 overall top donor to Democrats in the election cycle, only behind George Soros, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Mr. Salame was the No. 11 overall donor to Republicans.
FTX officials also contributed to groups associated with national Republican and Democratic organizations, as well as congressional leaders.
Messrs. Bankman-Fried and Singh together gave $3 million to Senate Majority PAC, a group affiliated with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.). Mr. Bankman-Fried also donated $6 million to House Majority PAC, a group aligned with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), and $2 million to GMI PAC, which funded congressional candidates supportive of crypto.
Mr. Salame donated $15 million to the American Dream Federal Action fund, which contributed to Republican candidates. He contributed $2.5 million to the Senate Leadership Fund, associated with Republican leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and $2 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund, associated with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.).
A spokesman for Ms. Gillibrand said she donated the money she received from Mr. Bankman-Fried to a nonprofit in the Bronx. A spokeswoman for Mr. Manchin said he donated it to a food bank in West Virginia. Representatives for Mr. Boozman and Ms. Collins said they were planning to give Mr. Bankman-Fried’s money to charity.
A spokesman for Mrs. Pelosi referred questions to House Majority PAC, which didn’t respond to a request for comment. Mr. Schumer didn’t respond to a request for comment, and Senate Majority PAC declined to comment.
Representatives of American Dream Federal Action, the Senate Leadership Fund, the Congressional Leadership Fund, Messrs. McConnell, McCarthy, Emmer and Booker and Mses. Stabenow and Murkowski didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Brody Mullins contributed to this article.
Write to Paul Kiernan at email@example.com and Stephanie Stamm at Stephanie.Stamm@wsj.com