Federal records show that cryptocurrency accuser Sam Bankman-Fried and his colleagues funneled nearly $95,000 in donations to at least 11 members of the House Financial Services Committee ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
The string of individual campaign donations has raised eyebrows given that 11 lawmakers serve on the panel currently investigating the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX last month.
The majority of contributions have been made to Democrats — New York Rep. Richie Torres received a total of $35,000 from various FTX-related donors, according to The Post’s analysis of FEC campaign data.
The House Financial Services Committee — which has 53 members — is set to question Bankman-Fried at a congressional hearing on Tuesday. Their plans were derailed when the shaggy-haired ex-billionaire was arrested in the Bahamas hours earlier and charged with multiple fraud charges.
While Torres has already pledged to donate his FTX-related campaign coffers to charity, at least one member — Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D-MA) was quick to say he won’t follow suit. Meanwhile, many others remained silent.
Here’s a breakdown of the 11 committee members who accepted campaign donations from Bankman-Fried and his associates:
Representative Richie Torres (D-NY)
And Bankman-Fried personally donated $2,900 directly to the New York Democratic campaign, according to FEC data.
Gabriel Bankman-Fried, brother of the FTX founder, separately contributed a total of $32,400 to Torres’ campaign and victory fund.
Torres spoke about donating to the campaign earlier this week, telling CoinDesk that he was “unsolicited” and that he was donating the amount.
“My ties to him are minimal,” Torres insisted, adding that Bankman Fried was a “pathological liar”.
In a statement to The Post, Torres’ communications director Sophie Bullock confirmed that the money was being donated to a “local charity.”
Representative Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ)
Records show that the New Jersey congressman received $5,800 in personal donations from Bankman Fried.
He also received two separate donations — $2,900 each — from FTX CEO Mark Wittgen, who previously served as a CFTC commissioner.
A spokesperson for Rep. Gottheimer’s office said he would donate the money to charity.
Representative Jake Auchinclose (D-MA)
Auchincloss, vice-chairman of the committee, received a personal donation of $5,800 from Bankman Fried. He also received $5,800 from Wittgen.
The Massachusetts Rep revealed this week that he has no plans to return the donations — because the money was given to other Democrats in more competitive midterm races.
“I wouldn’t send money to a guy in a Bahamas jail, that’s for sure. This money offshore helps elect Democrats,” he told Boston radio station WBUR.
re / count. Jesus Chuy Garcia (D-Illinois)
Bankman Fried poured $2,900 into the Illinois Democrat’s re-election campaign.
García’s spokesperson revealed last month that his campaign had already donated FTX-related money to the Northwest Center in Chicago, which focuses on financial literacy.
Garcia’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH)
FEC data shows the 72-year-old Democrat received a $2,900 donation from Bankman-Fried.
Beatty’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Rep. Cindy Axney (D-II)
The disgraced FTX founder made two separate campaign donations to the Iowa Democrat.
Axne received $2,900 towards Cindy Axne for Congress and a separate donation of $5,000 to the AXNE PAC, according to campaign finance records.
Axne’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
re / count. Lee Zeldin (R-NY)
Records show, however, that FTX CEO Ryan Salama donated $5,800 to Zeldin’s campaign before the midterm.
Zeldin’s office did not respond to The Post’s request for comment.
re / count. Sean Kasten (MD-IL)
Bankman-Friend’s brother Gabriel made two separate donations to Casten’s campaign — totaling $1,000, according to FEC data.
When reached by Thursday, the Kasten DC office had “no comment at this time.”
Representative Tom Emmer (R-MN)
The Minnesota Republican received a handful of donations from at least two FTX executives before the midterms.
His campaign received a total of $8,700 from Salameh and another $2,900 from Zack DeCoster of FTX.
Eamer’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rep. Ted Bud (R-NC)
Records show that the North Carolina Republican representative was the recipient of the $2,900 donation made by Salameh.
Budd’s office could not be reached for comment. As an outgoing member of the committee, he is set to succeed Republican Sen. Richard Burr in office Jan. 3.
Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT)
$2,800 was donated to the Connecticut representative’s campaign by FTX CEO Daniel Barrett.
“The contribution we’ve received…we didn’t ask for it and it’s being donated,” said Francesca Capodilupo, Himes’ campaign manager.
A congressional office that received a Bankman-Fried donation, who did not wish to be identified, told The Post that it was waiting for the money to be unloaded until it was determined where the money legally belonged to. She has previously been advised not to donate the money to charity in case it is later recovered by victims.
Other contributions are questionable
Members of the House Financial Services Committee aren’t the only politicians with FTX money in their coffers.
FEC records show Bankman-Fried alone funneled thousands of dollars into numerous PACs, as well as campaigns for actors Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Kim Schrier (D-WA), and Angie Craig (D-MA), among others. .
Leading experts on government ethics said Thursday that panelists were wrong to accept donations from Bankman-Fried or its FTX partners.
“These contributions were … unethical because they represented a conflict of interest on the part of FTX and the regulator,” said Gene Temple, professor of philanthropy and founding dean emeritus of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.
“Politicians usually make contributions to charity with the amount of polluted money they’ve got,” Temple explained.
“In this case, since FTX preyed on individuals, a victim fund might be set up… which would be a convenient place for politicians to make payments.”
John B. agreed. Bellisaro, a political scientist and senior research fellow at Santa Clara University’s Marcola Center for Applied Ethics, shares with Temple’s assessment that the donations should never have been accepted.
“Members of the House Financial Services Committee should have refused to accept campaign donations from any corporation or individuals associated with such that have or could have legislation under consideration in the committee that affects their business,” Bellisaro said.
He continued that the only “ethical course” for the committee members was to return the money.
He explained that “if the money is not returned by members of Congress, they may create the perception that they are indebted to a corporation—now a failed corporation and subject to legal scrutiny—that was seeking to influence public policy before the committee.”
The House Financial Services Committee did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.
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