House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) raised eyebrows on Friday for politely asking former FTX CEO and possible fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried to participate in a hearing before lawmakers.
FTX recently filed for bankruptcy after users discovered that trading firm Alameda Research, a company run by former Bankman-Fried love interest Caroline Ellison, had allegedly been using funds from FTX to make bets. Though the disgraced entrepreneur may have lost untold billions in clients’ money, Waters told Bankman-Fried on social media that “we appreciate that you’ve been candid in your discussions about what happened” at FTX.
“Your willingness to talk to the public will help the company’s customers, investors, and others,” she added, noting that the House Financial Services Committee would “welcome your participation” in the hearing, which is currently scheduled for December 13.
Bankman-Fried, the son of two Stanford Law professors with deep-seated connections to the Democratic Party, emerged as an overnight success three years ago. He contributed $39 million during the recent midterm elections, with the vast majority of funds benefiting Democratic candidates, according to data from Open Secrets. During the most recent presidential election cycle, he was the second-largest donor to the Biden campaign.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) cited the would-be wunderkind’s campaign contributions in a response to Waters. “So polite and accommodating,” he tweeted along with a photo of Bankman-Fried and the lawmaker posing for cameras. “See how differently Democrats treat their donors?”
Newsmax anchor and podcast host Benny Johnson posted footage of Waters appearing to blow Bankman-Fried a kiss during a previous hearing. “She’s the one who’s supposed to grill SBF next month?” he asked.
Joe Concha, a columnist for The Hill, noted that the “polite” nature of the message was absurd and akin to saying, “We appreciate that you’ve been candid in your discussions around destroying the lives of thousands of your investors while hiding out in your $40 million penthouse in the Bahamas that said investors paid for.”
Despite his considerable donations to left-wing candidates, Bankman-Fried also gave “about the same amount” in dark money to Republicans, he said during an interview with cryptocurrency vlogger Tiffany Fong. “The reason was not for regulatory reasons. It was because reporters freak the f*** out if you donate to Republicans,” he contended.
Members of the media have extended a considerable amount of grace to Bankman-Fried, who is presently still located in the Bahamas, where FTX is headquartered. New York Times financial columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin interviewed the 30-year-old at the outlet’s recent DealBook Summit despite widespread criticism for neglecting to cancel the conversation.
After Sorkin pressed him on the alleged intertwining of funds between his companies, Bankman-Fried claimed that a “failure of oversight” on his part resulted in confusion rather than any desire to defraud investors for his own profit. “I wasn’t running Alameda. I didn’t know exactly what was going on,” Bankman-Fried remarked. “I was nervous because of the conflict of interest of being too involved.”