Not Just Democrats: FTX Exec Gave Tens of Millions to GOP Causes

It’s no secret Sam Bankman-Fried shelled out millions to Democratic causes. 

But it turns out a fellow top executive — Ryan Salame, the former co-head of FTX’s derivatives business and FTX whistleblower — was backing Republicans and conservative PACs in a big way. 

Meanwhile, some of the donations from SBF himself may not have been properly disclosed, according to Bankman-Fried’s own telling.

There is no knowing how much he gave under the table. The now-disgraced FTX founder has admitted he kept significant sums to Republicans under wraps. 

“I donated about the same amount to both parties,” Bankman-Fried told Tiffany Fong, a YouTube influencer, before his arrest in the Bahamas. “All my Republican donations were dark.”

His rationale, Bankman-Fried told Fong, had nothing to do with regulatory scrutiny. It was, instead, all about protecting his now-tarnished — but once pristine — public image. 

“Reporters freak the f— out if you donate to Republicans,” he said during the interview. “They’re all super liberal, and I didn’t want to have that fight.”

But Republicans cashed in, too

At least one executive did not share his concern. Salame, who then held the title of co-chief executive of FTX Digital Markets, made notable personal contributions to GOP campaigns and causes. 

Salame alone gave nearly $23 million almost exclusively to Republicans and right-leaning PACs, according to FEC data.

Salame did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bankman-Fried, arrested in the Bahamas, faces federal charges, including money laundering, wire fraud and campaign finance violations.

According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) data, Bankman-Fried personally gave $40 million to various Political Action Committees (PACs) and individual candidates, almost entirely to Democrats.

But FTX US, the American subsidiary of the crypto exchange, donated $500,947.30 between December 2021 and September 2022, according to FEC records — the majority to the crypto-focused GMI PAC, which primarily backed the Republican-aligned Crypto Innovation PAC during the 2022 midterms. Bankman-Fried served as the entity’s chief executive at the time of the donations. 

Crypto Innovation PAC, in turn, financed the campaigns of Republicans Michelle Bond — who lost the New York Republican primary for the House of Representatives in 2022 — and Rep. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma, who beat out his competition. The group also donated to Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., Sen. Ted Budd, R-N.C., and Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., all of whom won their respective races. 

All had been vocal crypto advocates. At least back then. 

Bond also received at least $400,000 in consulting fees from FTX Digital Markets, according to the candidate’s financial disclosure report filed in August. No direct donations from FTX to Bond were reported in FEC filings

Salame was romantically involved with Bond. Salame was also a top donor to the WINRED PAC, which raked in over $1 billion and gave more than $300,000 to Bond, according to filings

Bankman-Fried’s personal disclosed donations went a long way toward advancing the recipients’ respective agendas, particularly the Protect our Futures PAC, a liberal initiative that credits $27 million of its total $28.5 million raised to Bankman-Fried himself. 

Reps. Lucy McBath, D-Ga., and Jasmine Crockett, D-Texas, were two PAC-supported candidates that went on to win their seats in 2022.

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