Crypto-Cash Corrupted Congress-- But It Isn't Just The Bribers Who Need Accountability
Almost Every Member Of The Financial Services Committee Was Taking Bribes
The amount of FTX crypto-poison that Sam Bankman-Fried, Ryan Salami, Nishad Singh, Caroline Ellison and other crooked executives— and straw donors like Sean McElwee— injected into the American political system still hasn’t been fully tallied. But there’s a lot more to it than the $2,900 contributions that went to the campaigns of scores of corruptible members of Congress. At the very least, we’re looking at $100,000,000. It could be a lot more, some legal, some legalistic, flat-out some criminal. Now the bankruptcy will cause an attempt to claw back as much of that stolen money as possible. And a good place to start would be the DCCC, the DSCC, the NRCC, the NRSC, Pelosi’s House Majority PAC, Schumer’s Senate Majority PAC, McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund and McCathy’s Congressional Leadership Fund— not to mention the state and federal party committees.
Since so many millions of dollars were contributed through impossible-to-trace dark money groups, no one knows exactly how much FTX money needs to be given back. But some of it is known. SBF, for example, gave Schumer’s Senate Majority PAC a million dollars and Nishad Singh gave the PAC another $2 million. This week Schumer told the PAC to return the $3 million. A spokesman told CNBC that “Following the serious allegations against FTX, Senate Majority PAC previously set aside the contribution amounts from Sam Bankman-Fried and Nishad Singh with the intention of returning the funds once we receive proper direction from federal law enforcement officials based on their legal proceedings.” The DSCC, the DNC and the DCCC have made the same kind commitments. Not responding to inquiries about the stolen money was conservative Democratic PAC, Future Forward USA, which got over $5 million from Ellison and Bankman-Fried through Alameda and which was spent on helping Biden. Pelosi’s House Majority PAC said they are awaiting instructions from the authorities about where to send the $6 million Bankman-Fried gave them.
Ryan Salame was the primary funnel for FTX bribes to the GOP. He quickly flipped (snitched) on Bankman-Fried, Gary Wang and Nishad Singh and is now cooperating with the prosecutors. He may not be charged with any crimes— we’ll see— but the stolen funds he laundered into the GOP— at least $23,000,000— still need to be returned and so far, neither McCarthy (at least $2,750,000) nor McConnell (at least $2,500,000) is returning a dime.
Aside from funding his own American Dream PAC and the crypto-GMI PAC from which to help Republican campaigns, Salame gave millions to the Stand For New York Committee, Club for Growth, Value in Electing Women PAC, Results for North Carolina PAC (to bribe crypto-ally Ted Budd, a member of the House Financial Services Committee and now a Senator thanks to Ryan’s cash infusions), Defending Main Street…
The blond next to Salame in the photo above is Michelle Bond, his girlfriend, for whom he tried to purchase Lee Zeldin’s House seat in Suffolk County. He put over a million dollars into her primary— mostly through dark money groups— but she fared poorly. On top of the couple million in IEs Salame spent to help her through various PACs, she spent $1,426,446, far more than Congressman-elect Nick LaLota, who spent a fraction of that and still crushed her:
Wondering why none of this gets covered by the mainstream media? A couple days ago Blake Hounshell wrote, more or less, about that very topic: Why No One in Politics Wants to Talk About the Sam Bankman-Fried Scandal. He noted that “It’s hard to quickly sum up the extent of the influence operation Bankman-Fried, 30, and his associates built during his meteoric ascent… [working] to court politicians, regulators and others in the policy orbit… The extraordinary financial scandal has also become a sticky political morass, sucking in dozens of lawmakers and groups. Prosecutors also accused Bankman-Fried last week of defrauding the Federal Election Commission by running what’s known as a straw-donor scheme— making political contributions under someone else’s name.” The money was the cash looted from FTX and Alameda and given to third parties— like his mother’s crooked Mind the Gap PAC— to use to help corrupt conservatives.
FTX, under new management, said on Tuesday that it wanted to recoup that money, and is threatening legal action if the cash is not returned voluntarily. It’s not clear how much is considered stolen, but Bankman-Fried and his associates poured at least $70 million into various campaigns over 18 months.
… Before his arrest, Bankman-Fried told Tiffany Fong, a YouTube journalist, that he had also donated about the same amount to Republicans in ways, he suggested, that would not necessarily pop up in federal campaign finance reports.
“All my Republican donations were dark,” Bankman-Fried said. He did it, he explained, because reporters are “all secretly liberal” and would “freak” if he donated to Republicans in his own name.
“You don’t often have someone giving an interview and admitting that,” said Donald Sherman, a lawyer who worked on the F.E.C. complaint on behalf of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit group.
…For the Democrats who are embarrassed by taking dirty money, perhaps the only blessing of this scandal might be that it’s a bipartisan one.
That might be why, as Michael Schaffer noted in an astute column for Politico written before Bankman-Fried’s indictment, the two parties aren’t firing at each other in Washington. The city’s “polarized political-media ecosystem can’t do much with a potential scandal,” he wrote, “if there’s no partisan advantage to drive it.”
But the FTX scandal has already become a factor in at least one Democratic primary.
In Chicago, Representative Jesús García, who is known as Chuy and is leading some polls in the city’s mayoral race, is under attack by surrogates of Mayor Lori Lightfoot for the fact that one of Bankman-Fried’s groups supported García’s campaign with about $150,000 worth of direct mail. García is a member of the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees the crypto industry, and Lightfoot’s allies have insinuated that his financial ties undercut his claim to be a reformer.
“Congressman García is and always has been a skeptic of cryptocurrencies,” his spokesman responded, adding that García had already redirected a $2,900 donation from Bankman-Fried to charity. As for the direct mail, the campaign said, it was an independent expenditure that was spent on his behalf without his involvement.