Based on data compiled by OpenSecrets, a non-partisan group that monitors political donations in the United States, Bankman-Fried has personally donated nearly $40 million to Democratic candidates and political action committees. After George Soros, he was the second-largest donor to liberal causes and the sixth-largest donor in history.
Also, another FTX exec, Ryan Salame, has given over $23 million to primarily Republican causes. Nishad Singh, director of engineering at FTX, donated $8 million to liberal causes, bringing the total amount of donations to $10 million.
Together, they made cryptocurrency one of the top spending industries in Washington, DC, and helped cement FTX’s position as the election cycle’s third-largest contributor.
Now, after FTX’s dramatic implosion and bankruptcy earlier this month, which caused Bankman-Fried to resign from his position and lose $16 billion of his net worth, the donations are provoking heightened scrutiny of the cryptocurrency industry’s influence on politics.
Critics of “effective altruism,” the worldview Bankman-Fried and some of his colleagues held that inspired the Future Fund’s creation, an effort to make socially impactful investments, were also sparked by FTX’s rapid demise.
On the September 12th episode of NBC’s Meet the Press, Bankman-Fried discussed his political donations and the potential influence that significant contributions like his have on lawmakers.
Bankman-Fried stated, “Frankly, everyone should always be skeptical of things like this” about political donations. “I will not suggest that people overlook this issue or excuse anyone who is responsible for it. Examine the data, and see if you can figure out what’s going on.”
Mr. Bankman-Fried personally donated the maximum of $5,800 to the Senate Agriculture Committee’s chair, Democrat Debbie Stabenow (Michigan), and ranking member, Republican John Boozman (Arkansas), who introduced a bill this past summer to help FTX become compliant with U.S. regulations. He gave the maximum allowed to dozens of House candidates, including Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), Cory Booker (D., N.J.), Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), and Susan Collins (R., Maine). According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Mr. Bankman-Fried was the second-largest individual donor to Democratic candidates this election cycle, behind only George Soros. The Republican Party ranked Mr. Salame as their eleventh-largest donor.
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.In total, Mr. Bankman-Fried and Mr. Singh donated $3 million to Senate Majority PAC, which is associated with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.). Additionally, Mr. Bankman-Fried gave a total of $8 million to political action committees, including $6 million to House Majority PAC, which is aligned with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), and $2 million to GMI PAC, which supported crypto-friendly congressional candidates.
Government representatives from FTX gave money to the Republican and Democratic National Committees and to members of Congress.
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 contributed $15 million to the Republican American Dream Federal Action fund. He gave $2,500,000 to the Senate Leadership Fund, which supports Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky’s Republican Party, and $2,000,000 to the Congressional Leadership Fund, which supports House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California’s Republican Party (R., Calif.).
A representative for Ms. Gillibrand said the funds she received from Mr. Bankman-Fried were given to a charity in the Bronx. Mr. Manchin’s spokeswoman said he gave the money to a West Virginia food bank. Both Mr. Boozman and Ms. Collins have stated that they intend to donate Mr. Bankman-funds Fried’s to a charitable organization.
The House Majority PAC did not respond to a request for comment after being referred to by Mrs. Pelosi’s spokesman. Both Mr. Schumer and Senate Majority PAC declined to comment when reached for comment.
Requests for comment from the offices of American Dream Federal Action, Senate Leadership Fund, Congressional Leadership Fund, McConnell, McCarthy, Emmer, Booker, Stabenow, and Murkowski went unanswered.