No one in New Hampshire is bragging about returning campaign donations from Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), founder of the bankrupt FTX cryptocurrency exchange and convicted felon.
More than one million investors, large and small, lost what some have estimated to be as high as $11.3 billion in the FTX debacle last year. Some of those funds may still be sitting in the coffers of New Hampshire Democrats.
FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) reportedly funneled funds from his Alameda Research hedge fund to political action committees donating primarily to Democrats, according to an Oct. 13 report by Reuters citing Nishad Singh, the defunct cryptocurrency exchange’s former Director of Engineering.
Singh testified against SBF at his fraud trial in October.
SBF was a top political donor. Despite years of saying he was politically agnostic and being a virtual unknown outside of a handful of Bitcoin events and an occasional CNBC appearance, the FTX executive donated $40 million in the 2022 midterm elections, with some 99.6 percent going to Democrats, according to OpenSecrets.
The 31-year-old SBF is the youngest of the top 10 political donors in the country thanks to FTX, trailing 81-year-old billionaire Michael Bloomberg.
Sen. Maggie Hassan and the New Hampshire Democratic Party are both on the SBF “Top 10 List” for collecting campaign cash. Bankman-Fried was a top-four donor to Hassan’s last election, giving her victory fund PAC $25,800. Another $5,000 went to the Granite Values political action committee, which was set up to fund Granite State Democratic campaigns.
Based on OpenSecrets data, Hassan is the only New Hampshire representative in Washington, D.C., receiving donations from SBF to her personal campaign account. Her benefactor is currently incarcerated at the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center, the same place where convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell, sidekick to the infamous Jeffrey Epstein, is confined.
Reuters reported her lawyers once compared the prison to scenes from “The Silence of the Lambs.”
The Washington Free Beacon reported in April that Hassan’s campaign donated a total of $5,800 to an FTX victim fund run by the Department of Justice. The money was sent to the U.S. Marshals Service. It is unclear if the other $20,000 was also relinquished. The senator’s press office declined to respond to multiple requests for comment.
SBF also sent $10,000 donations on two occasions to the Democratic Party of New Hampshire PAC, once on July 31, 2021 and again on Oct. 7, 2022, according to FEC data. State party chair Ray Buckley and the party’s media spokesperson have also refused to answer questions about their handling of the SBF cash.
Many people who received donations, like Hassan, have indeed forwarded some of those dollars to the U.S. government, the U.S. Marshal’s Service said.
Those returned donations end up in the Department of Justice’s Seized Assets Deposit. Should SBF and Alameda Research be found guilty, the funds will be dispersed to account holders with digital assets in FTX wallets. The U.S. Marshal’s Service cannot say who returned their donations to the fund.
New Hampshire political leaders and committees are not bragging about it if they did.
New Hampshire FTX account holders, like the rest of the nation who had bitcoin on SBF’s exchange, are unlikely to ever be made whole. Victims of the infamous swindler Bernie Madoff never got their full capital returned to them, either.
As of Aug. 23, some $7 billion in FTX assets have been seized to pay off debtors and clients left holding the bag in the celebrity exchange blowout. Asset recovery efforts are ongoing and are expected to continue into 2024. Investors will have to wait and see how much of their investment is returned to them. Until then, FTX account holders’ digital wallets will remain at $0.
Once a prodigy of the crypto universe, with sports arena sponsorships in Florida, and A-list stars like Tom Brady and Larry David touting his wares on TV commercials, SBF was a top donor to New Hampshire Democrats. He donated more to the party than any New Hampshire individual, according to OpenSecrets.
For those who did return SBF’s money to help make investors whole – mum’s the word.
The Democratic National Committee, a large recipient of SBF donations, did not return requests for comment. The Vote Tripling PAC, which got $350,000 from SBF to help the Democrats defeat President Trump in Sept. 2020, also did not return requests for comment.
But neither did the now defunct Alabama Conservatives Fund, run by a political operative named Dalton Dismukes, who now runs a firm called Strategic Management in Montgomery. He did not return requests to comment on the $105,000 SBF gave his fund in June 2022. Lastly, the National Republican Congressional Committee got $36,500 in July 2022 but did not want to discuss whether they returned the money to FTX investors who had their money mismanaged by SBF and the company.