Is Sam Bankman-Fried America's Public Enemy #1?
Crypto-billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried wants to do good with the 20 or so billion dollars he made from bitcoin and other scammy cryptocurrencies. He really does. But instead, he's doing bad-- when he isn't flushing his money straight down the toilet, like he did in Oregon's new congressional district. Lazy media outlets-- all of them-- keep writing that he spent $11 million of so in that race, backing some random guy named Carrick Flynn. That figure is old news that ended on April 27 when Open Secret posted it. Since then, the FEC reports that Bankman-Fried and his various entities spent at least an additional $2,345,000... and that doesn't even count the $939,477 he gave to Pelosi's PAC with instructions to use it to help Flynn, which immediately they did!
Flynn did poorly, garnering just 11,162 votes (18.4%) in a race with 9 candidates, 7 of whom were "serious." So Bankman-Fried spent around $1,400 per vote. I never heard of anything like that in my life. Have you? He could have just handed out $1,200 checks to voters, saved a boatload of money and probably would have actually elected his random guy to Congress.
Bankman-Fried, a resident of the Bahamas, was Biden's second biggest campaign contributor in 2020 and now spends millions to elect conservative Democrats. He's flooding CA-42 with millions of dollars to elect life-long conservative Republican Robert Garcia, currently pretending to be a "Democrat," and even fooling the suckers at the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC into endorsing him. (When I asked why they would endorse a Republican instead of a tried and true progressive fighter, they told me Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia has a potty mouth and Robert filled in their questionnaire very well!) Please contribute to Cristina's campaign here.
Bankman-Fried is also funding corporate "moderate" Sydney Kamlager's campaign against progressive Mayor Daniel Lee in the deep blue congressional seat Karen Bass is giving up to run for mayor. In the last week or so, he spent $370,619... but the money flow is just beginning there. Please contribute to Daniel Lee's campaign here.
Bankman-Fried's sewer money defeated Erica Smith in North Carolina, electing the most right-wing anti-Choice Democrat in the North Carolina legislature, Don Davis, with smears and lies. Like I said, he believes he's doing good... but he's doing great harm.
Yesterday Alex Seitz-Wald, reporting for NBC News, wrote that Bankman-Fried is boasting about spending as much as a billion dollars in the 2024 cycle. "Bankman-Fried, the 30-year-old founder of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX," wrote Seitz-Wald, "said in a podcast interview released Tuesday that he expects to give 'north of $100 million' in the next presidential election and has a 'soft ceiling' of $1 billion, with his spending likely to be on the higher end if Trump runs again."
That amount of money would be unprecedented and shatter existing records several times over-- at least if it was all spent as so-called "hard money," which includes donations to candidates, parties, super PACs and other groups who have to report to the Federal Election Commission.
It's impossible to know how much other wealthy donors have spent to influence politics via so-called "dark money," which includes donations to groups like think tanks and non-profit advocacy organizations.
The most hard money any individual has spent in any election cycle was $218 million in 2020 by the late Republican casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, according to Open Secrets.
The Adelsons have competed in recent years to be the biggest donors in the country with Democratic billionaires Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, who have each spent between $75 and $150 million in the last three elections (not including the money they spent on their own presidential campaigns in 2020).
Liberal billionaire George Soros earlier this year committed to spending $125 million toward this year's midterms.
Beyond those well-known names, even mega-donors typically top out around $40 to $60 million per election cycle, so even $100 million would put Bankman-Fried among a tiny handful of the country's biggest donors.
...Critics, however, question the motives behind Bankman-Fried’s increasing involvement in politics, noting that the crypto industry has been stepping up its lobbying in Washington as lawmakers and regulators look to apply new rules to the largely unregulated industry that has likely destroyed more fortunes than it has made.
He’s one of several crypto donors who have started spending large amounts of money in politics seemingly out of nowhere, just as the industry comes under scrutiny.
And Bankman-Fried's biggest political investment so far did not pay off. He spent at least $12 million backing a little-known Oregon congressional candidate who ended up getting crushed in a Democratic primary last week.
In the podcast interview, Bankman-Fried said he would "do it a bit differently" if he could do it again, but fundamentally stood by the decision to intervene in the race, saying he always viewed it as a low-probability, high-reward situation.
"If you're donating to political races that you think your candidate are 99 percent to win, you're almost certainly doing something wrong," he said, since the candidate doesn't need the help. "You should be donating such that you think you have a pretty substantial chance of losing, and I stand by that."
He's a dishonest, manipulative guy and a very dangerous wolf in sheep's clothing. No wonder Biden said "Nothing will fundamentally change" when he ran in 2020; it turns out to be the one campaign promise he's kept, which helps explain why he's the most disliked Democrat to occupy the White House since polling began.