Not Just A Crypto Scam: SBF Accused Of Massive Campaign Finance Violations, Too

INSIDE: Jack Smith ... Steve Bannon ... Carlos Watson
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 8: Chief Executive Officer of FTX Trading Limited Sam Bankman-Fried speaks during a House Committee on Financial Services | Full Committee Hearing titled Digital Assets and the Future of Fin... WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 8: Chief Executive Officer of FTX Trading Limited Sam Bankman-Fried speaks during a House Committee on Financial Services | Full Committee Hearing titled Digital Assets and the Future of Finance: Understanding the Challenges and Benefits of Financial Innovation in the United States on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Dec. 08, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.

Biggest Campaign Finance Case In Decades

We learned back in December that Sam Bankman-Fried was accused of more than just crypto-related scamming. A single count of the original indictment alleged significant campaign finance violations. But a superseding indictment publicly released yesterday offered considerable new detail about that aspect of the case, including the use of straw donors and corporate funds.

The new information makes this one of the largest campaign finance cases in recent decades. Consider the numbers from the superseding indictment: “over 300 political contributions, totaling tens of millions of dollars.”

The gist of the new allegations is that while SBF was known before his crypto exchange FTX came crashing down as a major Democratic donor (the sixth largest, with nearly $36 million contributed in the 2022 cycle), he was also allegedly giving to Republicans and “left-leaning causes” in significant amounts using corporate funds but through straw donors to keep it hidden from the public.

SBF, 30, had already admitted as much after the FTX collapse, as Mother Jones notes:

“All my Republican donations were dark,” Bankman-Fried said in an interview after FTX’s collapse. “The reason was not for regulatory reasons, it’s because reporters freak the fuck out if you donate to Republicans. They’re all super-liberal, and I didn’t want to have that fight.”

Prosecutors alleged that SBF designated one FTX executive as a donor to liberal causes and candidates, and another FTX executive as a conservative counterpart. The NYT points fingers, but delicately:

Besides Mr. Bankman-Fried, the two largest contributors to political campaigns who worked at FTX were Nishad Singh and Ryan Salame. Neither has been charged with any wrongdoing, according to campaign finance records. Mr. Singh, like Mr. Bankman-Fried, largely contributed to Democratic candidates and Mr. Salame mainly to Republican candidates.

The new indictment, while adding some new details, still leaves a lot out:

  • Who were the recipients of SBF’s allegedly illegal political contributions?
  • How much in total did SBF secretly contribute?
  • Who exactly were the straw donors?

One hint of the scope of illegal giving comes up obliquely in the new indictment:

The internal Alameda spreadsheets, however, “noted over $100 million in political contributions, even though FEC records reflect no political contributions by Alameda for the 2022 midterm elections to candidates or PACs.”

For your additional reading pleasure:

Mother Jones: Sam Bankman-Fried Was Indicted for Hundreds of Illegal Campaign Donations. Who Else Knew?

Law&Crime: Sam Bankman-Fried’s secret campaign donation strategy was ‘woke s***’ for liberals and ‘dark’ money for GOP, indictment says

NYT: New Details Shed Light on FTX’s Campaign Contributions

Latest On the Jack Smith Investigations

A few new developments for those tracking Special Counsel Jack Smith closely:

  • Smith has filed a motion to compel former Vice President Mike Pence to testify to a DC grand jury investigating 2020 election subversion. Notably, it appears to be in response to former President Trump’s legal team raising executive privilege to block Pence’s testimony, not Pence’s own announced gambit to avoid testifying using the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause.
  • The DC Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on whether the Speech or Debate Clause bars the Justice Department from accessing the contents of the phone of Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA). It didn’t go particularly well for the Justice Department.
  • The chief district judge in DC declined a media request to unseal some of the secret legal proceedings involving the Jan. 6 grand jury and Trump’s claims of executive privilege.
  • New details on one subset of classified materials ultimately found at Mar-a-Lago, via The Guardian.

Trump Win in 2024 Will Unleash A Wave Of Retributions

A taste of what’s to come:

A conservative non-profit group allied with former President Donald Trump urged “Hill staffers and their colleagues” to cut off meetings with any former Jan. 6 committee staffers who have since joined firms that lobby.

In a letter sent to hundreds of recipients on the Hill, the dark money group American Accountability Foundation listed the names of the former committee staffers and their titles — along with their new employers and links to their firms’ clients — all of whom they urged to blacklist.

Strzok And Page May Get To Depose Trump And Wray

The illicit affair between the two senior FBI figures played prominently in Trump’s attacks on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Peter Strzok and Lisa Page have each filed separate lawsuits against the government arising from the that whole fiasco, and they’re one step closer now to being able to depose former President Trump and FBI Director Chris Wray.

Steven Bannon Sued By His Own Lawyer

A law firm that represented Steve Bannon in two of his federal prosecutions claims he still owes it nearly half a million dollars for services rendered.


Joyce Vance on former Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich deplorable conduct in pushing the Big Lie and burying his office’s own investigation debunking it.

Carlos Watson Arrested And Charged With Fraud

A year and a half after Ben Smith’s bombshell media column (“bombshell media column” is something no one has ever typed, right?), Ozy Media and CEO Carlos Watson have been charged with fraud in a federal indictment in Brooklyn.

Josh Marshall On Pence 2024

Simon Rosenberg Is Leaving NDN

Ron Brownstein: Why This Democratic Strategist Walked Away

Quite A Map

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