Senator Wyden Refuses to Return Bankman-Fried Donations after Accepting Money from Family for Over a Decade

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Senator Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) has not returned or donated money he received from disgraced former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, Federal Election Commission records show

Bankman-Fried donated the legal maximum of $2,900 to Wyden’s campaign committee, Wyden for Senate, on October 26, 2022, according to records obtained by the Oregon Roundup newsletter.

FTX filed for bankruptcy on November 11 and later asked candidates who received donations “by or at the direction of” Bankman-Fried to return them as the company worked to pay back its creditors.

National Review has reached out to Wyden’s office for comment.

Bankman-Fried was indicted on eight counts last year, including securities fraud and money laundering. He was hit with a campaign-finance violation charge for allegedly working to disguise donations to appear as though they were coming from other wealthy donors.

Prosecutors allege Bankman-Fried misled investors and mishandled billions in funds. He has been accused of misusing customer funds deposited with FTX to boost his crypto hedge fund, Alameda Research. Nicolas Roos, an assistant U.S. attorney, said in December that Bankman-Fried has committed crimes of “epic proportions.”

Bankman-Fried and other FTX executives spent millions of dollars on 2022 campaigns in an effort to build relationships to influence policy around cryptocurrency, according to prosecutors.

NBC News reported in December that 25 of the 59 candidates who received personal donations from Bankman-Fried said they planned to donate the money to charity, while three others said they would return the donation or hold it until federal investigators offered guidance. Thirty-one campaigns did not respond. Wyden was not mentioned in the story.

Meanwhile, Democrats’ Senate Majority PAC, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have all said they plan to return or donate contributions they received from Bankman-Fried and FTX’s former head engineer Nishad Singh.

For his part, Wyden has received money from the Bankman-Fried family for more than a decade. Wyden for Senate received $2,900 from Bankman-Fried’s brother, Gabe Bankman-Fried, in April 2022, according to the report. Sam Bankman-Fried’s father, Joseph Bankman, contributed $2,500 in 2010 — his largest contribution to a federal candidate or committee to date.

In February, the New York Times reported that authorities had broadened their investigation into the more than $90 million in campaign contributions that FTX employees and others close to the company gave to congressional candidates and political-action committees to look into whether Sam Bankman-Fried’s brother and father were also involved in the alleged campaign-finance scheme.

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