Prominent politicians who received heaps of money from Sam Bankman-Fried or his FTX associates are quietly trying to run the clock out on the media’s short attention span, hoping they can keep cash that came from the corrupt crypto firm’s alleged fraud.
Bankman-Fried, also known as SBF, was arrested Monday in the Bahama’s after U.S. prosecutors filed multiple criminal charges against him.
Those charges, including wire fraud and securities fraud, stem from the collapse of his cryptocurrency empire, which included the exchange platform FTX and the trading firm Alameda Research.
In the weeks following the collapse of his businesses, SBF hasn’t shied away from talking.
In numerous public interviews and social media live chats, the MIT grad, once hailed as the next J.P. Morgan, has been loquacious in his attempts to explain away the stunning failure of his $32 billion former unicorn.
But all that talking might come back to bite him now that he’s staring down a list of charges that could mean he spends the rest of his life behind bars.
Before the collapse, SBF spread his money around, and many observers believe his generosity to left-wing causes and liberal politicians is part of the reason he eluded regulator scrutiny for so long.
He donated millions to various charities, including funding COVID-19 research that discredited ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine as treatments, and he gave more than $35 million to President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats.
As often happens when a political mega patron crosses the law, bipartisan calls have ensued for politicians to disgorge their committees of the cash, which now appears to have come from illegal, fraudulent activity.
In the case of Bernie Madoff, an infamous Ponzi scheme operator, elected officials rapidly shed his political contributions once his crimes came to light in 2008.
Several Democratic officials and campaign committees donated Madoff’s contributions to charity, including then-Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
With SBF and FTX, calls for his campaign contributions to be treated similarly have been bipartisan, with the liberal Washington Post’s editorial board speaking the loudest.
On Tuesday, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre flat out dodged a question as to whether President Joe Biden would return the $4.2 million his campaign committees received from SBF. She also wouldn’t say whether Biden would call on Democrats nationwide to make a similar move.
Which brings us to the Maine Democratic Party.
Nishad Singh, the Director of Engineering at FTX, often described as SBF’s Number 3, gave the Party $100,000 on August 20, 2022, just months before the whole enterprise imploded.
$90,000 of that was transferred to the Maine Democratic State Committee, according to state campaign finance records.
Party officials did not respond to The Maine Wire’s inquiries about their plans for the tainted cash in November, but that was before SBF was arrested.
Now that he’s got a shiny new pair of metal bracelets, has anything changed?
We reached out to see but did not receive a response.
Singh has been noticeable absent from the public stage during the FTX fallout. No public comments, no media interviews, no social media. No one even knows where he is right now or whether the 27-year-old Californian has fled the country.
Singh’s share of the FTX pot of gold is hard to calculate, but SBF said in a media interview earlier this year that he was probably one of five FTX employees who had become billionaires as a result of the company’s illusory sucess.
Although Singh himself has not been charged, yet, and may escape charges by cooperating with federal investigators, his political donations undoubtedly came from the defunct SBF-FTX empire.
The collapse of the company has cost investors, many of them retail speculators lured into trading cryptocurrency by sleek ads featuring Tom Brady and Matt Damon, more than $7 billion.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins, one of the few Republicans to receive donations from FTX big wigs, told the Wall Street Journal in November that she planned to donate the money to charity.
In an email, a Collins representative confirmed the intent to give the money away, but the representative did not say whether the donation had been made or to whom.