Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced founder of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX, has been a prolific political donor, pumping about $40 million into campaign committees and other groups this cycle alone, mostly aligned with Democrats, federal documents show.
His contributions are under investigation as federal prosecutors alleged on Tuesday that Bankman-Fried had violated campaign finance laws by sourcing donations from his related crypto hedge fund, Alameda Research, and falsely reporting them as coming from other people.
His generosity to Democratic causes has been surpassed only by that of George Soros, the liberal financier, in the past two years. Bankman-Fried has claimed that he gave an equal amount to GOP causes, but through nonprofit organizations 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 while running ads or sponsoring other communications support or oppose candidates.
Federal campaign filings show that he has given a total of $7 million to the top two super-PACs backing Democratic candidates for Congress in the 2022 election. He also gave to groups that focused on voter turnout, and in certain cases donated millions for very specific races.
Bankman-Fried also provided 95 percent of the funds for Protect Our Future, a fledgling Democrat-aligned super-PAC that supported a wide variety of candidates and charities. Its leaders described it as committed to principles of effective altruism, an approach to philanthropy that seeks to leverage data to effectively allocate money, in many cases to long-term threats. One of the goals championed by candidates supported by Protect Our Future was pandemic preparedness.
Protect Our Future has spent more than $10 million supporting a failed candidate in the Democratic primary for an open seat in the U.S. House in Oregon. The nominee, Carrick Flynn, is an adherent of the philosophy of effective altruism, which is said to have guided the endowment of the PAC. (He lost the primary to state legislator Andrea Salinas, who won the general election.)
Bankman-Fried has admitted in interviews in recent weeks that corporate philanthropy, 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 ran into limits on these contributions. Under federal law, individual donors can give up to $2,900 directly to a nominee committee before each election — meaning once in the primary and again at large, for a maximum of $5,800 per cycle.
This analysis counts contributions and repayments 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 recounting the money when those contributions are later received. transferred to campaigns and parties. This does not count money provided by other FTX employees, the company itself, or money given by groups that do not disclose their donors.
Edited by Mike Madden, Kate Rabinowitz and Karly Domb Sadof.