Who is Sam Bankman-Fried, a.k.a. "SBF," the woke, broke, baby-faced crypto whiz kid?
Runner-up to liberal mega-donor George Soros, the now-bankrupt founder of FTX, a Bahamas-based cryptocurrency exchange, was the second-largest contributor to Democrat-affiliated political action committees (PACs) and organizations during the 2022 midterm campaigns. It wasn't chump change; we're talking tens of millions that Bankman-Fried funneled to progressive causes.
Democrat And Never-Trump Beneficiaries
Bankman-Fried handed out a monstrous $38 million to left-wing entities through the election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) data. Among the recipients was GMI PAC, which Bankman-Fried sent $2 million. GMI ["gonna make it"] PAC, the self-described "crypto-community's campaign arm," then transferred over $5 million to Web3 Forward, its affiliate committee that splurged hefty sums on ad buys for several successful Democrat candidates: Pennsylvania Sen.-elect John Fetterman, Texas Congresswoman-to-be Jasmine Crockett, and Illinois victor Jonathan Jackson, who won his House seat in a landslide.
Forbes reported that Bankman-Fried also shelled out the maximum amount possible to six Never-Trump RINO senators who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump, which includes the committees of Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Mitt Romney of Utah, and Richard Burr of North Carolina.
Anti-Trump Biden Donor
Bankman-Fried is also partly to blame for who is in the White House right now running the nation. In the 2020 presidential election, Bankman-Fried was one of President Joe Biden's biggest financial backers—only behind billionaire Michael Bloomberg—gifting a lavish $5 million to the hybrid FF ["Future Forward"] PAC that was launched to support Biden and oppose Trump.
"So you've never met [Biden], even though you're one of the people who is among the most responsible for him being in office," a Vox reporter prodded Bankman-Fried in a 2021 interview. "Yep," a nonchalant Bankman-Fried replied, without future explanation.
The donations secured Bankman-Fried several White House meetings and appearances earlier this year. Mere months ago, Bankman-Fried visited the president's official residence for two meet-ups with top Biden advisor Steve Ricchetti, the White House counselor, on April 22 and May 12, according to White House visitor logs reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon. After the second White House visit, Bankman-Fried met the following day on May 13 with the White House deputy chief of staff's policy advisor Charlotte Butash, who was a volunteer vetting attorney for the Biden-Harris transition in late 2020, per Butash's LinkedIn.
A spreadsheet listing FTX international's assets and liabilities reference an obscure $7.4 million holding called "TRUMPLOSE," as seen by the Financial Times. Another eyebrow-raising negative $8 billion entry on the "balance sheet from hell" is described as the "hidden, poorly internally labeled 'fiat@' account." There's also a concerning accounting note at the top of the doc cautioning that "all" of the crunched figures are "rough values, and could be slightly off; there is also obviously a chance of typos etc."
From Hero To Zero
FTX filed for bankruptcy protection and Bankman-Fried's wealth plummeted following the U.S. elections. Back on Nov. 7, before he hit rock bottom, Bankman-Fried's pre-Election Day net worth was $15.6 billion, as indicated by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, which ranked the 30-year-old wunderkind among the ultra-wealthy worldwide. At the end of the week, Bankman-Fried went from being the 95th richest person on the planet that election-eve Monday to a man without a penny to his name by Friday.
How did the MIT-alum son of two Stanford law professors end up in dire financial straits?
FTX underwent an implosion amid inflammatory reports that Bankman-Fried was funneling $10 billion of customer funds to sister trading house Alameda Research, which is run by his rumored ex-girlfriend, Caroline Ellinson. At least $1 billion and up to $2 billion in client funds have reportedly gone missing and were not accounted for among Alameda's assets. Receipts documenting the shift of funds didn't indicate where the money was moved and FTX whistleblowers don't know what became of the riches.
Suspicions of financial instability at FTX triggered a tsunami of customer withdrawals. Balancing on the brink of insolvency, FTX couldn't meet the sudden demand as it lacked sufficient funds to pay sellers, instead imposing a halt on withdrawals altogether.
Two sources told Reuters that Bankman-Fried—in a meeting he confirmed took place—shared up-to-date records with senior FTX executives that revealed the financial hole. In text messages to Reuters, Bankman-Fried said he "disagreed with the characterization" of the $10 billion transfer. "We didn't secretly transfer," Bankman-Fried said. "We had confusing internal labeling and misread it," he added, without elaborating. When asked about the missing funds, Bankman-Fried responded: "???"
FTX's legal and finance teams also learned that Bankman-Fried implemented a "backdoor" in FTX's book-keeping system, Reuters reported. According to the report, the escape hatch, which he denied over text, allowed Bankman-Fried to execute commands that could alter the company's financial records without alerting others, including external auditors, which meant that the alleged movement of $10 billion in funds to Alameda did not trigger internal compliance or accounting red flags at FTX.
Although a math genius with poor social skills, Bankman-Fried lived in a so-called "polycule," a network of polyamorous relationships among multiple non-monogamous lovers, at a luxury Bahamas penthouse with 10 or so former co-workers, according to CoinDesk's bombshell report revealing that FTX's executives "are, or used to be, paired up in romantic relationships with each other." As the story goes, Bankman-Fried's ex-paramour Ellison, a LARPing (live action role-playing, the dressing up and enactment of fictional characters) die-hard Harry Potter fan, was part of the "cabal of roommates" that dated each other.
With his signature mop of tangled hair, the fidget-spinning Bankman-Fried uses video games and children's toys to relieve stress, still schmoozes off the Netflix password of his parents, and often dons wrinkled T-shirts, shorts, and beat-up New Balance sneakers that rival the rags of Senator-elect Fetterman. When he's not couch-surfing, he's snoozing in a bean bag chair.
Bankman-Fried seemed to be a self-made young wolf with an unconventional lifestyle that contrasted the corporate monotony of Wall Street heavyweights. He charmed the doting media, whose ranks penned nothing but positive press about Bankman-Fried and did little to examine his apparent ill-gotten fortune and wave of giving, which some outlets were on the receiving end of.
For years, Bankman-Fried has garnered goodwill as a big-time political spender who became a darling of Washington policymakers after buying favor in the nation's capital. Now, in the aftermath of FTX's folding, the beleaguered bitcoin billionaire facing legal and personal ruin is looking less like a benevolent philanthropist and more like a fraudster who swindled millions.
Bankman-Fried has flexed an "earning to give" philosophy of "doing the most good possible," but he has since conceded that the ethical do-gooder image was just an act that he and other "woke Westerners" cast themselves in to get ahead in the "game."
Vox published a candid interview with Bankman-Fried via Twitter direct messages, in which the dethroned crypto kingpin confesses in an expletive-filled exchange that previous calls for more stringent regulation were "just PR," a public relations front.
"[F]*ck regulators," Bankman-Fried DM'ed. "[M]an all the dumb sh*t I said," Bankman-Fried wrote in the Twitter chat, "it's not true, not really." Bankman-Fried added in a self-reflective aside that this decade has beloved figures who are "basically shams."
Vox senior writer Kelsey Piper described Bankman-Fried's ethical system as "a game with winners and losers." Bankman-Fried concurred: "ya, hehe, I had to be; it's what reputations are made of, to some extent. I feel bad for those who get f*cked by it."
This "dumb game we woke [W]esterners play where we say all the right shiboleths [sic] and so everyone likes us," he explained.
Vox admitted in a disclosure midway through the story that Bankman-Fried's philanthropic family foundation, Building a Stronger Future, awarded the left-wing news site's Future Perfect program a grant in August for a 2023 reporting project "on technological and innovation bottlenecks that hamper human progress," which is now on pause. Piper also writes the Future Perfect newsletter.
It was revealed that FTX was converting crypto contributions to Ukraine's war effort into fiat (goverment-issued currency) for deposit at the National Bank of Ukraine, according to a March 14 report by crypto news website CoinDesk. The government of Ukraine "partnered" with FTX to start a crypto donation site to streamline its wartime cash-cow campaign to turn bitcoin into bullets. With the involvement of Ukraine's crypto-happy Ministry of Digital Transformation, "Aid for Ukraine" was routing donated crypto to the central bank of Ukraine. "Help Ukraine with crypto," the landing page pleads, "don't leave us alone with the enemy."
After the FTX scandal's emergence, allegations went viral online accusing Bankman-Fried of partaking in a massive "money-laundering operation" with FTX serving as the "pass-through vehicle." Bankman-Fried's accusers assert that in the alleged "Democrat-Ukraine-FTX" wash cycle: the Biden White House provided U.S. taxpayer dollars to Ukraine; Ukraine invested in FTX; the "blood money" made its way back to the Democrat Party, which voted to empty America's inflation-ravaged wallet for Ukraine.
Bankman-Fried has doled out $900,500 to the Democratic National Committee, cut checks totaling $66,500 to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, and delivered a generous $250,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Two days after the explosive CoinDesk story, on March 16, the Biden administration announced an additional $800 million in military assistance to Ukraine's armed forces, accumulating to $1 billion in that past week and $2 billion overall at that time.
Aid for Ukraine's donation site URL changed on Nov. 1 and any mention of FTX has since been removed.
At the end of the month, Bankman-Fried is slated to appear alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the Biden administration's Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at an exclusive conference in Manhattan hosted by the New York Times.
The day-long DealBook Summit on Nov. 30 will feature a speech from the crypto mogul as well as words from other movers-and-shakers, including Meta's head honcho Mark Zuckerberg, TikTok CEO Shou Chew, Amazon president Andy Jassy, Netflix founder Reed Hastings, CNN commentator Van Jones. The fee to attend the conference is a pricey $2,499. A ticket gets attendees mainstage conversations, VIP networking sessions, and a cocktail reception, the summit's application says. The stated goal is to spark dialogue discussing "unexpected relationships and the wide-ranging ripple effects of change," according to the event page.
Bankman-Fried's influence has attracted another woke machine whose globalist agenda works to undermine state sovereignty.
The "new world order"-pushing World Economic Forum (WEF), champion of the Great Reset, shows that WEF's website had listed FTX as one of its "partners," before the page was scrubbed of any linkage to FTX. "FTX was a World Economic Forum partner. In light of last week's events, their partnership was suspended and they were removed from the Partners section of our website," a spokesman for the Geneva-based organization headed by economist Klaus Schwab told the New York Post Post.
WEF's May shindig in Davos, Switzerland, was a hub for hobnobbing with global luminaries and who's who among world leaders, including Bankman-Fried who was a headlining speaker addressing the topic of cryptocurrency at the annual gathering.
'Dark Money' Dealings
This election year, most of Bankman-Fried's money poured into Protect Our Future PAC and House Majority PAC, both of which exclusively support Democrats. Protect Our Future PAC, the primary beneficiary of Bankman-Fried's midterm largesse, enjoyed $27 million from the crypto magnate and, in turn, spent it on backing Democrat hopefuls with media buying and mail services.
Short of $900,000 was moved from Protect Our Future Pac's purse to the Justice Unites Us PAC, which dropped almost the same amount into canvassing for Oregon Democrat and then-congressional candidate Carrick Flynn, who lost by 18 points in the contentious Democrat primary to Congresswoman-elect Andrea Salinas. But it was no ordinary contest. Justice Unites Us PAC took advantage of a loophole in the federal campaign finance system's filing schedule to bypass rules and shroud the money trail.
The pop-up super PAC first formed in late March with its paperwork filed just days before the end of the first quarter. A little over a week later, Justice Unites Us PAC disclosed more than $846,000 in independent expenditures for field operations to boost Flynn.
But the date that the fieldwork started on April 5, after the quarter, mattered. As required, the elusive PAC reported its fundraising and spending totals for the first quarter of the year: $0 raised and $0 spent. Then it switched itself to a monthly filer to hide its donors until after the May 17 primaries, meaning the public wasn't supposed to know who was funding before ballots were cast.
Quarterly filers have to file "pre-primary" reports for races they're involved in, while Justice Unites Us PAC's complete fundraising and spending report wasn't due until May 20, post-primary. The secrecy was no accident; it was by design, an intentional cover-up meant to mask the donors, per Politico's analysis, and even NPR considered the mysterious PAC "a dark money group."
What's more curious: Justice Unites Us PAC styles itself as an organization focused on driving grassroots engagement among Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) voters, but Flynn, a white man, was not Asian. Oh, but he would've been an "ally" to APPI voters, the PAC's executive director claimed in a statement endorsing Flynn. However, Asians alone account for just 4.6% of Oregon's population, according to the 2020 census. An article by the local Willammette Week warned Flynn seizing the open House seat could've made Oregon's new, blue-leaning sixth congressional district "a Colony Ruled by a Distant Crypto Prince."
Protect Our Future PAC threw its own weight behind Flynn with a whopping $10.5 million in expenditures on a wide range of campaign activities, including radio, television, and digital ad production, lawn signs, door-knocking, and get-out-the-vote calls.
Meanwhile, House Majority PAC, which is tied to top House Democrats such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and accepted $6 million from Bankman-Fried, spent nearly $1 million promoting favored first-timer Flynn, an unknown face in the political arena. One ad paid for by House Majority PAC, whose work helps to elect Democrats to and maintain the majority in Congress's lower chamber, asserted that Flynn would "stand up to the Trump Republicans" so Democrats can "tackle climate change head-on."
The collective cash flow made it one of the most expensive House Democrat face-offs in the country, according to OpenSecrets.
Of course, crypto kingmaker Bankman-Fried seemingly bankrolling Flynn, a political nobody, drew scrutiny. An FEC complaint claimed Flynn and Bankman-Fried were colluding, breaking a law that bans outside groups from coordinating with candidates. Flynn laughed off accusations portraying him as a "Manchurian candidate," an obedient politician programmed to follow a shadowy puppet master's orders. The out-of-state big bucks were an oddity, alright. A smidgeon of support for Flynn came from donors who live in Oregon, the Salem-based Statesman Journal reported. The rest was outside cash, which insulted Oregonians.
Flynn's opponents released a joint statement condemning House Majority PAC's election "interference," calling the "unprecedented and inappropriate" move "a sleep in the face" to every Democrat voter and volunteer in Oregon. In the memo, six of the Democrat candidates for Congress denounced the PAC's decision to "influence" and "meddle" in the primary, like Flynn was some must-have nominee. "Where is this money coming from? And what does its source want in exchange?" they asked.
Similar to the dubious set-up of Soros's controversial Open Society Foundations, Bankman-Fried has one such foundation.
The liquidity crisis also caused the disintegration of FTX Future Fund, a grantmaking project of Bankman-Fried's "philanthropic collective" FTX Foundation, whose leaders warned grantees in a mass resignation announcement via Effective Altrium Forum blog post last Thursday night that they're unable to pay out funds as pledged. "We are devastated to say that it looks likely that there are many committed grants that the Future Fund will be unable to honor," FTX Future Fund's leadership team wrote.
"We are now unable to perform our work or process grants, and we have fundamental questions about the legitimacy and integrity of the business operations that were funding the FTX Foundation and the Future Fund..." reads the Nov. 10 memo, acknowledging and condemning "the extent that the leadership of FTX may have engaged in deception or dishonesty."
The foundation's FTX Climate was committed to "fight[ing] climate change" through the funding of anti-fossil fuel initiatives CarbonPlan and Giving Green, as well as Good Food Institute, which seeks to make plant-based meat mainstream.
ProPublica was awarded a $5 million grant from Building a Stronger Future, the family foundation run by Bankman-Fried, to report on "pandemic preparedness" and "any future outbreaks. But according to what ProPublica's president and editor-in-chief told staffers in an email shared with Fortune, while the investigative non-profit received only one-third of the grant in February—the first tranche—the remaining annual disbursements that were due by April 2023 and April 2024, respectively, are now on hold.
The collapse of Bankman-Fried's crypto empire has ushered in a slew of questions about FTX's crypto-lending activities and its former CEO's finances. Prosecutors with the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office are now probing FTX's cave-in over the reported misuse of customer funds, a source told Reuters. In addition, two U.S. regulatory bodies, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), are also investigating whether FTX mishandled customer deposits in order to prop up Bankman-Fried's hedge fund, Alameda Research, according to Bloomberg News.
But Bankman-Fried, too, bankrolled the campaigns of key lawmakers overseeing the CFTC, an agency he was courting.
Bankman-Fried donated to the chair and ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, which has jurisdiction over the CFTC and approves commissioners nominated by the president, and other members of Congress involved in CFTC oversight.
Earlier in 2022, Bankman-Fried donated to the Senate committee's chairwoman Democrat Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, contributing $20,800 to the Stabenow Victory Fund and $5,800 to Stabenow's campaign coffers. Bankman-Fried offered the latter amount to the committee's ranking member, Republican Arkansas Sen. John Boozman. American Dream Federal Action, a PAC founded by FTX Digital Markets co-CEO Ryan Salame, spent over $1 million on Boozman's campaign.
Bankman-Fried gave $5,700 to Senate committee member Democrat New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and $5,800 to fellow committee member Democrat New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's campaign, plus another $10,800 to the Gillibrand Victory Fund.
Next month, the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing to investigate the downfall of FTX. Bankman-Fried is expected to testify before Congress, but the chief Democrat lawmaker who is the chairwoman on the banking committee, California Rep. Maxine Waters, has been filmed and pictured in the past being pretty buddy-buddy with the embattled tech boss.
A video from Dec. 8, 2021, has resurfaced, appearing to show Waters blowing a kiss to Bankman-Fried after a previous congressional hearing on "Understanding the Challenges and Benefits of Financial Innovation in the United States." Bankman-Fried was a witness who was invited by Waters and other committee members to provide testimony on a panel.
A photograph taken there on Capitol grounds—courtesy of FTX—depicts Bankman-Fried and Waters palling around at the first, historic congressional cryptocurrency hearing. Bankman-Fried mentioned chitchatting with Waters and shared his impression of the Democrat congresswoman in an exclusive interview with The Pavlovic Today. Waters approached the issue of digital assets with an "open mind, which has been heartening as well," Bankman-Fried stated, finding the conversation they had "very helpful."
Bankman-Fried also appeared as a panelist talking crypto at March's annual Democrat caucus retreat in Philadelphia, where Waters was moderating the event. Waters was photographed in another picture with Bankman-Fried's arm draped around her.
Waters acting like ol' chums with Bankman-Fried begs the question: Should the chairwoman recuse herself from the investigative committee hearing? Waters, who publicly air-kissed Bankman-Fried on Capitol Hill, sounds like the last lawmaker we'd want in charge of an FTX probe. We may as well kiss our chances of an honest and transparent investigation into FTX goodbye.
She recently dodged an inquiry about FTX ties. Waters avoided Fox News reporter Hillary Vaughn's question when asked if Democrats who received campaign funding from Bankman-Fried should return it. "Well, I don't want to get into that. As a matter of fact, both sides, Democrats and Republicans, have received donations. So thank you," Waters replied, Fox Business reported.
Waters also dismissed questioning when pressed on whether she thinks lawmakers taking FTX funds puts 'em in the hot seat. "It's unfortunate because it just puts a bad eye on cryptocurrency. And so we'll see what happens," she told the Daily Beast.
Aside from Bankman-Fried's apparent camaraderie with Waters, a significant number of the congressional committee's members may also be compromised. Bankman-Fried and his FTX cronies donated over $300,000 to nine other House Financial Services Committee members—seven Democrats and two Republicans—who are now tasked with investigating FTX's self-destruction.
Of the nine, only Illinois Democrat Rep. Chuy Garcia has vowed that he would return a $2,900 contribution from Bankman-Fried. Garcia was also showered in almost $200,000-worth of advertisements financed by Bankman-Fried's Protect Our Future PAC.
Along with high-level FTX executives, Bankman-Fried gave to five Democrat members of the House committee's Digital Assets Working Group, which Waters established in the summer of 2021 to "support responsible innovation that protects consumers and investors" and to craft regulations of the crypto industry. Those five progressive legislators include Garcia, Democrat Reps. Ritchie Torres of New York, Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Jim Himes of Connecticut, and Sean Casten of Illinois.
Bankman-Fried and his younger brother Gabriel "Gabe" Bankman-Fried together gifted $40,300 to Torres's campaign and the Democrat congressman's political committees: the Torres Victory Fund and La Bamba PAC. Bankman-Fried and his colleague Mark Wetjen, the head of FTX's policy and regulatory strategy, bestowed $16,600 on Gottheimer. Himes received $500 from Wetjen, who was once nominated by former President Barack Obama to become commissioner on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and Casten collected thousands from a handful of Bankman-Fried's associates that were part of FTX's elite inner circle, including his alleged partner-in-crime Ellison, his little bro Gabriel, and FTX's ex-director of engineering Nishad Singh.
Another ethical concern that should be noted: Casten has an additional close connection to Bankman-Fried through his brother Gabriel, who worked as a legislative correspondent for then-freshman Congressman Casten from January 2019 until February 2021, according to Legistorm, which tracks congressional staffers, as well as the younger Bankman-Fried's LinkedIn profile. During his two-year tenure as Casten's congressional aide, Gabriel handled the junior congressman's constituent mail and attended meetings on pandemic legislation with senior House Democrats like Pelosi, the Washington Post reported.
The older Bankman-Fried and Wetjen contributed a combined total of $11,600 to Democrat committee member Rep. Jake Auchincloss of Massachusetts, and Bankman-Fried alone gave $5,000 to the super PAC for Democrat Iowa Rep. Cindy Axne, who sits on the committee, which seems to violate her self-imposed commitment to reject campaign donations from corporations.
Bankman-Fried's family has wielded influence over the Democratic establishment for a good part of a decade. "We're ambitious and looking to make a splash," Gabriel stated in a May interview with NBC News. "We certainly haven't hit our budget yet."
In the summer, Bankman-Fried was hailed as a promising savior for Democrats in the midterm. "Some Democrats see Bankman-Fried's investments and engagement as the thing that could help them hold back a red midterm wave," Politico reported.
So, was Bankman-Fried just a useful, deep-pocketed pawn rather than a Soros-esque visionary at the helm? After his usefulness expired and friends in high places the world over are distancing themselves, is Bankman-Fried a fall guy for the powers that be?