The fall of crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried has been described as a major blow to the Democratic Party, whose candidates have been the main beneficiaries of his largesse. But in a new interview, Bankman-Fried has claimed he’s given equally large amounts of money to Republicans.
“I donated to both parties. I donated roughly the same amount to both parties,” Bankman-Fried told the crypto commentator and citizen journalist Tiffany Fong.
“All my Republican donations have been obscure,” he said, referring to political donations that have not been publicly disclosed. “The reason wasn’t for regulatory reasons, it was because reporters freak out when you donate to Republicans. They’re all super liberal and I didn’t want to have this argument.”
Bankman-Fried’s undisclosed donations were made possible by and resulted in the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizen’s United, which allowed donors to donate anonymously more than $1 billion cast in federal elections since 2010.
The revelation comes as a political battle unfolds in Washington over the collapse of FTX, Bankman-Fried’s crypto exchange.
Bankman-Fried was the second-biggest donor to Democratic politicians in the last election cycle. Republican Senator Ted Cruz has called FTX “a Bernie Madoff-style scam that has cost investors BILLIONS.”
“Will Joe Biden and the Democrats who cashed Bankman-Fried’s checks give this money to the people SBF screwed?” he wrote on Twitter earlier this month.
On Thursday, the Senate will hold the first of a series of hearings on FTX’s collapse, with Republicans eager to blame Democrats for a lack of oversight before its collapse.
Public data shows that some parts of Bankman-Fried’s empire ceded to both parties equally. Data from Open Secretsa nonprofit organization that tracks campaign finance and lobbying data shows that FTX US, the company’s US subsidiary, donated equally to both parties.
But most of Bankman-Fried’s public donations went to Democrats. According to this, the FTX founder spent more than $990,000 on candidates in the last election cycle Open Secrets, and an additional $38.8 million to outside groups. Only about $235,000 of his public political donations went to Republican candidates.
The money helped Bankman-Fried position itself as an influential voice in crypto regulation in Washington. In February, he testified before the same Senate Agriculture Committee that will hold the first hearing on FTX’s collapse this Thursday.
At the February hearing, Bankman-Fried pleaded for clarity in crypto market regulation and outlined “FTX’s key principles to ensure investor protection.” These included:
● Maintaining adequate liquid resources to ensure the Platform can return Client’s assets upon request;
● Ensuring that the environment in which customer assets are protected, including digital wallets, is kept secure; and
● Ensuring appropriate accounting or asset recognition and disclosures to protect against misuse or misallocation of client assets.
Bankman-Fried was ousted after the company filed for bankruptcy. The new chief executive, John Ray III, who has overseen some of the biggest bankruptcies of all time, including the collapse of energy giant Enron, said FTX had an “unprecedented and complete failure of corporate control”.
According to FTX’s new management, a “significant portion” of the assets held by FTX could “go missing or be stolen,” and the company hasn’t even kept accurate records of who worked there.