Which Republicans Took FTX's Biggest Bribes?
And, Of Course, George Santos Was Involved
Sam Bankman-Fried gets most of the attention in the FTX scandal— as he, the mastermind and CEO, should. But some of his partners seem to be getting away with their crimes by turning state’s evidence against him, including his former lover Caroline Ellison, co-founders Gary Wang and Nishad Singh and Ryan Salame, the co-CEO of an FTX affiliate, FTX Digital Markets. Salame is generally thought of as the primary FTX funnel into Republican Party politics, having spent at least $30 million bribing crooked Republican politicians.
Who got the biggest chunks of FTX stolen loot from Salame? Millions of dollars were laundered into the GOP and their candidates surreptitiously so the scope and depth still isn’t clear but what we do know is that Salame started his own PAC, American Dream Federal Action, to hand out some of the loot and to help the candidates who had agreed to help FTX prevent “onerous” regulations of the crypto Ponzi scheme. Salame used $15 million in stolen FTX cash to fund the PAC. Among current members of Congress, the members who benefited the most from Salame’s largess were:
Katie Britt (R-AL)- who already aggressively came out against crypto regulations- $1,989,978
Brad Finstad (R-MN)- $1,249,674
John Boozman (R-AR)- $1,215,577
Erin Houchin (R-IN)- $1,093,228
Mike Simpson (R-ID)- $704,746
Eli Crane (R-AZ)- $639,080
Ted Budd (R-NC), one of the Blaockchain-8- $503,270
David Schweikert (R-AZ)- $500,479
Aaron Bean (R-FL)- $450,747
Dale Strong (R-AL)- $399,308
Dusty Johnson (R-SD)- $147,017
Among Salame’s other large contributions were $1.5 million to the GMI PAC, which funneled money to other PACs— like Web3 Forward— supporting corrupt politicians. GMI reported spending $11,451,229, most of it to Web3 Forward (which spent most of it to defeat progressive Democrats and help more conservative Democrats. They helped, among others, Val Hoyle against Doyle Canning, Sydney Kamlager against Daniel Lee, Robert Garcia against Cristina Garcia, Seth Magaziner against David Segal, Glenn Ivey against Donna Edwards. The other big recipient was the far right Crypto Innovation PAC, which spent on Salame’s crackpot girlfriend Michelle Bond who lost her Long Island primary, and on sleazy Republicans Salame was already backing: Markwayne Mullin (OK- $425,116), Ted Budd (NC- $400,150), John Boozman (AR- $356,213), Eric Schmitt (MO- $339,048), House Financial Services Committee chairman and career criminal Patrick McHenry (NC- $167,000), Wesley Hunt (TX- $56,448) and Erin Houchin (IN- $54,648).
But that’s just the beginning. Salame also filled the coffers of other GOP PACs like McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund ($2,500,000), McCarthy’s Congressional Leadership Fund ($2,000,000), Results for North Carolina ($700,000, all of it used to defeat Madison Cawthorn at the request of Kevin McCarthy), Stand For New York Committee ($867,000, all of it used to help Salame’s girlfriend against Nick LaLota, who beat her), Value in Electing Women PAC ($250,000), New York State Republican Party ($117,300), Defending Main Street ($75,000), NRSC ($73,000), Lee Zeldin’s gubernatorial campaign ($66,729), NRCC ($52,700), Club for Growth Action ($50,000), RNC ($25,000), New York Republican Federal Campaign Committee ($10,000).
As far as candidates, among Salame’s biggest recipients now in Congress:
Tom Emmer (R-MN), leader of the Blockchain-8- $17,400
John Hoeven (R-ND)- $8,700
George Santos, or whatever his name is (R-NY)- $5,800
Glenn Thompson (R-PA)- $5,800
Erin Houchin (R-IN)- $5,800
Andrew Garbarino (R-NY)- $5,800
Blake Masters (R-AZ)- $5,800
Alex Mooney (R-WV)- $5,000
Roger Marshall (R-KS)- $5,000
Mitch McConnell (R-KY)- $5,000
Katie Britt (R-AL)- $5,000
And then several dozen members who got less than $5,000 each— to numerous to list, the smallest amount going to crypto-crook Cynthia Lummis’ Steer PAC ($250).
There were several other FTX executives bribing candidates at Bankman-Fried's and Salame's direction. For example, last week, the NY Post reported that “Daniel Friedberg, the former FTX ‘chief regulatory officer’ linked to an infamous online poker cheating scandal, also gave the maximum possible donation to Rep. George Santos during the disgraced Republican’s successful bid for Congress… Friedberg told the Seattle Times, which first reported on the campaign contributions Friday, that he donated to Santos on the recommendation of a friend.” Presumably, it was Salame who directed Friedberg to max out to Santos since he also maxed out to Salame’s girlfriend, Michelle Bond. Friedberg, who was almost surely a straw donor, is now cooperating with federal prosecutors against Bankman-Fried.