Political donations won’t save Bankman-Fried from investigation

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Amidst the collapse of FTX, conspiracies about the relationship between the crypto exchange and lawmakers have spread. Elon Musk, the “richest man in the world,” has even propagated these claims, stating that Sam Bankman-Fried was not investigated because he was “a major Dem donor.”

There are several issues with this claim. First, as Protos reported in September, our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests about investigations into FTX and FTX US were denied under an exemption that protects records compiled for law enforcement, suggesting they were under Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation.

Since then, the Wall Street Journal reported that both entities have been under investigation by the SEC for months — and separately, under investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

As to the question of political donations, Bankman-Fried’s offerings are just one slice of the pie. Holistically, the FTX family has supported both sides of the aisle. Bankman-Fried is indeed one of the largest Democratic donors. However, Ryan Salame, one of the chief executive officers of FTX Digital Markets, is a large Republican donor.

In the 2022 election cycle, Bankman-Fried gave just shy of $39 million in political donations. Almost the entirety of this was to Democratic candidates — but Bankman-Fried also donated $155,000 to conservative PACs; notably, the Alabama Conservatives Fund, which was used to advance Katie Britt, a Trump-endorsed election denier. He also gave to Heartland Resurgence, a super PAC supporting Ann Wagner, another election denier. Sam was willing to endorse candidates seeking to diminish democracy, in order to advance his crypto agenda.

Ryan Salame, co-chief exec of FTX Digital Markets, is a massive Republican donor. He and his wife gave $20,367,000 in political donations this year, almost entirely directed toward Republican super PACs. They spent more than famously large Republican donors like Paul Singer.

The direct contributions of FTX US are almost entirely to Republican organizations. These include $750,000 given to the Congressional Leadership Fund, which gave exclusively to Republican candidates. An additional $150,000 was given to the American Patriots PAC, which only advanced Republican candidates, including election deniers.

A $550,947 contribution from FTX US was made to GMI PAC, a super PAC focused on advancing digital assets that also received donations from former Trump communications director Anthony Scaramucci. FTX US gave an additional $105,000 to the previously discussed Alabama Conservatives Fund, which advanced an election denier.

Read more: Sam Bankman-Fried learns crypto donations don’t always win elections

FTX’s political activities were focused on advancing the interests of its inner circle, especially as they related to cryptocurrency regulation. Bankman-Fried benefitted from the press of being the second largest donor to President Biden’s campaign, but FTX’s activities transcended party and are in no way preventing investigations.

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