A watchdog group has demanded an investigation into Sam Bankman-Fried’s political donations, claiming the former FTX CEO admitted to donating tens of millions of dollars to Republicans under the table, in violation of federal law.
The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed the complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Dec. 8, citing comments made by Bankman-Fried in a Nov. 16 interview with cryptocurrency vlogger Tiffany Fong released via YouTube on Nov. 29.
CREW suggested in its complaint that wealthy donors often take advantage of the Citizen United ruling to evade federal disclosure laws by using intermediaries and claiming they were unaware of where the funds ended up, but that Bankman-Fried’s admission negates this plausible deniability. As CREW senior vice president and chief counsel Donald Sherman notes:
“Bankman-Fried said the quiet part out loud. He admitted that he violated federal laws designed to ensure Americans have transparency into those funding elections and now needs to be held accountable.”
CREW has asked the FEC to investigate the violation, and take any further action that is appropriate such as referring the matter to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.
The group accused Bankman-Fried of “direct and serious violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act,” which requires the disclosure of political donations of over $200 a year.
Related: FTX’s Bankman-Fried to face market manipulation probe, Do Kwon chimes in
In the Nov. 16 interview with Fong, Bankman-Fried claimed to have “donated about the same to both parties.” Given that he was the Democrats’ second largest donor, according to OpenSecrets, these “dark” donations appear to involve a substantial amount of money.
“All my Republican donations were dark,” SBF noted, before adding:
“The reason was not for regulatory reasons, it’s because reporters freak the fuck out if you donate to Republicans, they’re all super liberal. And I didn’t want to have that fight.”
Bankman-Fried has been on something of an apology tour since his fall from grace, making a variety of public appearances including interviews with The New York Times’ DealBook Summit, Good Morning America and plenty of Twitter Spaces.
He has repeatedly claimed that he is conducting these interviews against the advice of his lawyers, who have advised him to lay low and not say anything lest his comments land him in hot water.