Crypto money is shaking up US politics
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Sam Bankman-Fried, the ultra-wealthy founder of crypto exchange FTX, said he wanted to give away all $20 billion of his wealth, except just 1%. Now we learn how much of that money goes to political ads.
On a podcast this week, Bankman-Fried (nicknamed SBF) said he expects to give at least $100 million in political donations for the upcoming 2024 election, and could spend up to $1 billion if Donald Trump was a factor.
This would put SBF in the major leagues of political donors, if not crown it the GOAT.
- The maximum spent for an election cycle (as far as we know) is $218 million by Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson and his wife in 2020.
- George Soros is pumping $125 million into Democratic causes and candidates for the upcoming midterm elections.
- Democratic billionaires Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer have spent between $75 million and $150 million in the three previous elections.
So how does SBF spend its money?
Sam and his brother/philanthropic partner, Gabe, are proponents of “effective altruism,” a philosophy that advocates using scientific reasoning to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Right now, the brothers are focused on funding lawmakers who will help stop the next pandemic to occur.
In this election cycle, they have already spent more than $12 million supporting an overlooked congressional candidate in Oregon who researched pandemic prevention through the lens of effective altruism. (It didn’t go well – he got run over in primary.)
Some believe that SBF has other motives with his political donations. Is it just a coincidence that a corporate executive in an unregulated industry spends huge sums on elections? Critics say no – and they accuse SBF of using these donations to secure friendlier treatment for FTX when these regulations break down.
Big Picture: If the crypto industry continues to grow and create new tycoons, crypto wealth will shape the American political landscape for years to come. After all, SBF is just one of many crypto moguls who have recently stepped up their political giving, including Fred Ehrsam (co-founder of crypto investment firm Paradigm), Tyler Winklevoss (co-founder of the crypto exchange Gemini) and the co of FTX. -CEO Ryan Salame.—NC