Former Democratic candidate for Governor of Texas, Beto O’Rourke, gave back the money from FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF). The former CEO of the failed crypto trading venue donated $1 million to the O’Rourke campaign, according to a report from The Texas Tribune.
Bankman-Fried donated millions to the campaigns of several high-profile political figures. Before FTX filed for bankruptcy, its former CEO was one of the largest donors to the Democratic party. He contributed $5 million to U.S. President Joe Biden’s campaign in 2020.
As the FTX drama unravels, some politicians scramble to get rid of the donations and distance themselves from Bankman-Fried. The former FTX CEO allegedly used its customer funds to prompt up his other company, Alameda Research, and possibly to make his way into Washington’s sphere of influence.
Beto O’Rourke Returns A Portion, But Not The Entire FTX Donation?
The report claims that the Beto O’Rourke campaign returned the $1 million donation before the FTX debacle became public around November 4. The Texas Tribune cites Chris Evans, a spokesperson for O’Rourke, claiming that they returned the funds because the donation was “unsolicited.”
Evans claims they received the funds on October 11, but Beto O’Rourke never spoke with Bankman-Fried. Thus, the large donation inspired suspiciousness from the campaign’s staff. The spokesperson said:
This contribution was unsolicited and the campaign’s upcoming [Texas Ethics Commission] report will show that it was returned back on November 4, prior to the news stories that would later come out about the donor.
However, The Texas Tribune claims Bankman-Fried was O’Rourke’s most prominent donor during his fundraising cycle. This donation period spanned from July 1 to September 29, 2022. In that sense, it seems suspicious that the former candidate never spoke or had contact with Bankman-Fried.
Furthermore, the Beto O’Rourke campaign received $100,000 from FTX’s former director of engineering and a close friend of SBF, Nishad Singh. There is no evidence that the campaign also returned these funds.
Politicians Under To Return FTX Donations
According to the report, SBF donated over $40 million to the Democratic party. The former FTX CEO and others close to him also donated millions to politicians in the major U.S. parties, including Ryan Salame, who contributed $23 million to the Republican party.
Bankman-Fried was trying to push his agenda for regulations where the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) was set to operate as the primary regulator. In the crypto community, SBF faced backlash after he debated with crypto advocate Erik Voorhees.
The Texas Tribune quotes many more donations to high-ranking U.S. government officials. For many, this event showcase Bankman-Fried at one of his lowest points just before FTX’s collapse. O’Rourke’s adversary and winner of the Texas governorship Greg Abbot, stated the following about SBF’s contributions:
This guy gave a million dollars to Beto. This Madoff-Style evaporation of customer’s money should be a crime. Candidates who received this tainted money should return it so that innocent customers of FTX can get some of their money back.
Other politicians are struggling to take the heat off their ties to FTX. Many are set to donate any FTX donation to charities. In the meantime, there is no official announcement from the U.S. government regarding Sam Bankman-Fried’s connections to prominent politicians.