Three major campaign committees that work to elect Democrats to Congress are moving to return more than $1 million in donations they received from Samuel Bankman-Fried, the disgraced founder of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX.
Bankman-Fried — who was arrested in the Bahamas earlier this week and is accused of defrauding customers and investors to fund a lavish lifestyle — was a political donor to individual lawmakers, official campaign committees and super PACs, including the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who announced that they would work to return the donations.
In a statement Friday, DNC spokesman Daniel Wessel said that the group will set aside the $815,000 in contributions it has received from Bankman-Fried since 2020. That total includes donations Bankman-Fried made directly to the DNC as well as the Democratic Grassroots Victory Fund and the Biden Victory Fund, which was a joint fundraising committee approved by Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, the DNC and state Democratic parties.
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“We will return as soon as we receive proper direction in the legal proceedings,” Wessel said.
Officials at the DSCC and DCCC — the official campaign arms of Senate and House Democrats, respectively — released similar statements.
The DSCC received $103,000 in donations associated with Bankman-Fried, and like the DNC, is preparing to return it once it gets the proper guidance, according to spokesman David Bergstein. The DCCC is setting aside its $250,000 it got from Bankman-Fried and said it is “waiting for further guidance from the government on what to do with the money based on their legal proceedings.”
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“House Democrats are committed to preserving the integrity of our democracy and fairness in our campaign finance system,” said DCCC spokesman Chris Taylor.
In total, Bankman-Fried reportedly spent upward of $40 million on campaign donations in the 2022 midterm cycle, with the vast majority going to Democrats.
The disgraced crypto billionaire was arrested in the Bahamas on Monday, just as federal prosecutors in New York filed charges against him. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission also filed charges against Bankman-Fried on Tuesday.
In total, Bankman-Fried faces charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud on customers; committing wire fraud on customers; conspiracy to commit wire fraud on lenders; committing wire fraud on lenders; conspiracy to commit commodities fraud; conspiracy to commit securities fraud; conspiracy to commit money laundering, and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and violate campaign finance laws.
Bankman-Fried was denied bail during a hearing in the Bahamas on Tuesday. He was scheduled to testify remotely to the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday, but his arrest prevented his appearance.
Fox News’ Louis Casiano, Anders Hagstrom, and Marta Dhanis, as well as The Associated Press, contributed to this report.
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