Sam Bankman-Fried, the now-bankrupt founder of crypto exchange FTX, is a prolific donor of Democratic candidates and liberal causes, and infused at least $38 million into left-wing groups during the 2022 election cycle.
Bankman-Fried was the second-largest contributor to Democratic-affiliated political action committees (PAC) and organizations, behind only liberal financial magnate George Soros, who donated nearly $127 million during the midterm cycle, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) data. However, the collapse of FTX this week has called into question Bankman-Fried’s finances.
A full-fledged liquidity crisis forced FTX to file for bankruptcy Friday, and Bankman-Fried’s wealth, which was estimated to be $15.6 billion earlier this week, has sharply plummeted, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The index currently estimates Bankman-Fried has no material wealth.
“I’m sorry. That’s the biggest thing,” Bankman-Fried tweeted Thursday morning. “I f—ed up, and should have done better.”
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Bankman-Fried’s philanthropic collective, the FTX Foundation, which was committed to fighting climate change and other global health issues, disintegrated as a result of the crisis. The group has supported the CarbonPlan and Giving Green, two climate initiatives dedicated to achieving a so-called green transition from fossil fuels, and the Good Food Institute, an organization pushing the expansion of plant-based meat.
Leaders of the collective resigned Friday and said the group would no longer be able to perform its work or process grants.
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“We are devastated to say that it looks likely that there are many committed grants that the Future Fund will be unable to honor,” they wrote on a blog post. “We are so sorry that it has come to this.”
“We joined the Future Fund to support incredible people and projects, and this outcome is heartbreaking to us.”
During the midterm election cycle, Bankman-Fried funneled most of his contributions to Protect Our Future PAC and House Majority PAC, both of which exclusively supported Democratic candidates.
Protect Our Future was the primary recipient of his midterm largesse and received $27 million from the crypto magnate, making him by far the PAC’s largest donor.
Protect Our Future, in turn, spent more than $24 million backing various Democratic candidates with ad buys and direct mail services. The PAC also transferred millions to other groups, including nearly $900,000 to the Justice Unites Us PAC on April 1, FEC records show.
Days after that donation, Justice Unites Us dropped roughly the same amount into canvassing for Carrick Flynn in Oregon’s 6th congressional district. Flynn, however, suffered an 18-point Democratic primary loss to Andrea Salinas.
Bankman-Fried also pushed $6 million to the Nancy Pelosi-aligned House Majority PAC, which works to elect and maintain Democrats in Congress’s lower chamber, and a half million dollars to the Chuck Schumer-tied Senate Majority PAC.
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Additionally, the crypto magnate sent $2 million to the GMI PAC, which raised over $11 million as of mid-October.
GMI transferred $5.25 million to its affiliated committee Web3 Forward, which spent more than $4 million on media buys for several Democratic candidates. Senator-elect John Fetterman in Pennsylvania, Rep. Jasmine Crockett in Texas, House candidates Jonathan Jackson in Illinois and Adam Hollier in Michigan were among those who benefited from the cash, Web3 Forward’s filings show.
Bankman-Fried sent six figures to several other groups, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
In October, Bankman-Fried backed off a pledge to give $1 billion in political contributions through 2024, saying he would instead give closer to $100 million, he told Politico. Bankman-Fried’s recent financial troubles may ultimately foil his planned $100 million in political giving to Democratic endeavors.
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“This is an absolutely stunning turnaround from somebody who was the darling of Washington policy circles,” Blockchain Association Executive Director Kristin Smith told Politico. “It was built on a house of cards.”