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FTX’s Bankman-Fried donated nearly $40 million this political cycle. Here’s who benefited.




Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced founder of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, was a prolific political donor, pumping about $40 million this cycle alone into campaign committees and other groups mostly aligned with Democrats, federal records show.

His contributions are under scrutiny as federal prosecutors alleged on Tuesday that Bankman-Fried violated campaign finance laws by taking donations from his related crypto hedge fund, Alameda Research, and falsely reporting them as originating from other people.

His prowess for democratic causes was surpassed in the past two years only by George Soros, the liberal financier. Bankman-Fried has maintained that he gave just as much to GOP causes, but through nonprofits that are not required to disclose their donors. Much of the money Bankman-Fried gave went to super PACs. These groups, which can accept unlimited individual and corporate contributions, must remain formally separate from campaigns when running ads or sponsoring other communications support or oppose candidates.

Federal campaign records show he gave a combined $7 million to the two main super PACs supporting Democratic candidates for Congress in the 2022 election. He also gave to groups focused on turnout and, in certain cases, paid out millions for very specific races.

Bankman-Fried also gave 95 percent of the funds to Protect Our Future, a new Democratic-aligned super PAC that supported a wide range of candidates and causes. The executives described it as committed to principles of effective altruism, an approach to philanthropy that seeks to use data to allocate money efficiently, in many cases to long-term threats. Among the causes championed by candidates supported by Protect Our Future was pandemic preparedness.

Protect Our Future spent more than $1[ads1]0 million supporting an unsuccessful candidate in the Democratic primary for an open US House seat in Oregon. The candidate, Carrick Flynn, is a proponent of the effective altruism philosophy said to have guided the PAC’s giving. (He lost the primary to state legislator Andrea Salinas, who won the general election.)

Bankman-Fried has acknowledged in interviews in recent weeks that philanthropy by companies, including his own, is often designed to generate good PR.

His desire to spread his resources widely is evident in the number of politicians he supported: He contributed to more than 60 federal candidates, including members of both parties representing all corners of the country. Unlike his donations to super PACs, Bankman-Fried faced limits on those contributions. Federal law says individual donors can give up to $2,900 directly to a candidate committee for each election — meaning once in the primary and again in the general, for a maximum of $5,800 per cycle.

This analysis counts contributions and reimbursements from and to federal political committees disclosed as given or received by Bankman-Fried in reports filed with the FEC since 2020. This excludes contributions to joint fundraising and conduit committees to avoid counting the money again when those contributions were later transferred to promotions and parties. This does not count money disclosed as given by other FTX employees, the company itself or money given through groups that do not disclose their donors.

Editing by Mike Madden, Kate Rabinowitz and Karly Domb Sadof.



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