Democrats set aside donations from ex-FTX CEO Bankman-Fried

Dec 15, 2022, 11:28 PM | Updated: Dec 16, 2022, 1:34 pm
Samuel Bankman-Fried, center, is escorted out of the Magistrate Court building the day after his ar...

Samuel Bankman-Fried, center, is escorted out of the Magistrate Court building the day after his arrest in Nassau, Bahamas, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022. The U.S. government charged Bankman-Fried, the founder and former CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, with a host of financial crimes on Tuesday, alleging he intentionally deceived customers and investors to enrich himself and others, while playing a central role in the company's multibillion-dollar collapse. (Austin Fernander/The Tribune Bahamas via AP)

(Austin Fernander/The Tribune Bahamas via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The three primary committees charged with electing Democrats said Friday that they would set aside more than $1 million in donations this election cycle from disgraced crypto mogul Samuel Bankman-Fried, who is accused of making tens of millions of dollars in illegal campaign donations.

Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, was a prolific political donor to individual lawmakers, official campaign committees and super PACs. Among the recipients of his cash were the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

In a statement Friday, DNC spokesman Daniel Wessel said that the group will set aside the $815,000 in contributions it has received from Bankman-Fried since 2020. That total includes donations Bankman-Fried made directly to the DNC as well as the Democratic Grassroots Victory Fund and the Biden Victory Fund, which was a joint fundraising committee approved by Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, the DNC and state Democratic parties.

“We will return as soon as we receive proper direction in the legal proceedings,” Wessel said.

Officials at the DSCC and DCCC — the official campaign arms of Senate and House Democrats, respectively — released similar statements.

The DSCC group received $103,000 in donations associated with Bankman-Fried, and like the DNC, is preparing to return it once it gets the proper guidance, according to spokesman David Bergstein. The DCCC is setting aside its $250,000 it got from Bankman-Fried and said it is “waiting for further guidance from the government on what to do with the money based on their legal proceedings.”

“House Democrats are committed to preserving the integrity of our democracy and fairness in our campaign finance system,” said the spokesman, Chris Taylor.

There’s growing scrutiny on campaign donations that Bankman-Fried showered on individual lawmakers, campaign committees and super PACs since FTX collapsed last month and potentially erased the holdings of hundreds of thousands of customers.

Many lawmakers said in response to queries from the Associated Press that they will donate Bankman-Fried’s contributions to charity. Some lawmakers, similar to the campaign committees, are setting aside the money until further legal guidance.

Some campaign finance experts recommend setting his campaign cash aside, considering that those defrauded by him could seek to recoup the funds.

“During my most recent campaign I received unsolicited contributions from the company’s principal Samuel Bankman-Fried,” Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., said in an e-mailed statement Friday. “It is my intention to return or donate all the funds received. I will hold the funds in a separate account while we await guidance from legal counsel before proceeding.”

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Democrats set aside donations from ex-FTX CEO Bankman-Fried