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More Republicans than Democrats returned Sam Bankman's FTX 2022 cycle campaign donations: Data

OpenSecrets.org's data continues to be updated on a rolling basis as additional donations are returned. Although Sam Bankman-Fried's ill-gotten gains went to candidates on both sides of the aisle, so far it appears more Republicans than Democrats have returned the money.

Published: December 22, 2023 11:40pm

Updated: December 24, 2023 9:47am

More current and former Republican lawmakers have returned campaign contributions from FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried made during the 2022 election cycle compared to Democrats, according to federal election data reviewed by Just the News.

Prosecutors charged that Bankman-Fried defrauded his cryptocurrency customers of approximately $8 billion. He was found guilty during a trial in New York on two counts of conspiracy and five counts of fraud. FTX, founded by Bankman-Fried, spent heavily on the 2022 midterm elections.

CBS News reported that he made about $40 million in political donations in the 2022 election cycle. The report said that public records of Bankman-Fried's money show it primarily went to support Democratic committees and candidates, donating $6 million to the House Majority PAC, the main outside group supporting House Democrats, $250,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and $66,500 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. 

In a telephone interview with independent cryptocurrency reporter Tiffany Fong, Bankman-Fried said in November of last year that in fact his donations to Republicans were roughly equal to those he made to Democrats, but that "all my Republican donations were dark." He also said he made all of these donations during the primary contests.

"Reporters freak the f*** out if you donate to a Republican, because they're all super liberal. And I didn't want to have that fight, so I just made all the Republican ones dark," he said in the interview.

Last December, some recipients said that they would make donations to charity in the amount of the contribution that they had received. At the time, FTX issued a statement in response to those plans, because FTX debtors would have first priority to recoup the money under bankruptcy laws.

“Recipients are cautioned that making a payment or donation to a third party (including a charity) in the amount of any payment received from a FTX Contributor does not prevent the FTX Debtors from seeking recovery from the recipient or any subsequent transferee,” the company said on December 19, 2022.

“To the extent such payments are not returned voluntarily, the FTX Debtors intend to commence actions before the Bankruptcy Court to require the return of such payments, with interest accruing from the date any action is commenced,” the statement also read.

According to OpenSecrets.org, which tracks federal election contributions, 65 House Democrats received average contributions of $3,758 from FTX and 73 House Republicans received average contributions of $3,300.

On the Senate side, 24 Democrats received an average of $5,796 and 20 Republicans received $6,695.

To date, OpenSecrets.org has been tracking the current and former lawmakers who returned the donations.

In the House, 12 Republicans and 8 Democrats returned the contributions, according to the organization’s data.

In the Senate, two Democrats and four Republicans returned the money.

OpenSecrets.org's data continues to be updated on a rolling basis as additional donations are returned. The organization told Just the News that its FTX election data includes contributions made under Alameda Research, a cryptocurrency firm co-founded by Bankman-Fried.

Just the News reached out to the offices of congressional leaders including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., and former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and asked if they had returned the donations they had received since they did not appear on the OpenSecrets’ compiled data of returned donations.

Only Rep. Pelosi’s office responded to Just The News, saying the money had been returned. The other offices did not respond before press time.

Cryptocurrency newsletter Cointelegraph.com reported in December of last year that President Joe Biden, whose 2020 presidential campaign accepted $5.2 million in donations from Bankman-Fried, had not commented on what he intends to do with the funds. Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke — a Democrat who lost his race against incumbent Greg Abbott — reportedly returned a $1 million donation from SBF prior to the 2022 election. Rep. Jeffries, now the House Democratic Leader, and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., have also reportedly donated funds they received to unnamed charities.

Three Democratic campaign groups announced in December of last year that they were planning to return funds from FTX.

According to Reuters, the Democratic National Committee set aside $815,000 for a give back, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said it was “setting aside $103,000, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which oversees the party's campaign arm for the House of Representatives, said it would set aside $250,000.”

OpenSecrets.org reported that DNC Services Corp., the Democratic Party of Maine and the Democratic Executive Cmte of Florida have returned contributions.

The Fund for America's Future, the Follow the North Star Fund and the Americans for Legislating Excellence PAC have also returned contributions.

 

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