Unraveling the Bankman-Fried Family’s Alleged $100 Million Political Donation Scandal

The fallout from the collapse of FTX, a leading cryptocurrency exchange, continues to reveal deeper layers of controversy and misconduct. The latest twist involves allegations of a $100 million political donation scheme orchestrated by FTX’s founder, Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), and his family. This scandal, now implicating Sam’s father Joe Bankman, mother Barbara Fried, and brother Gabriel Bankman-Fried, has brought to light serious accusations of misappropriated funds and illegal campaign finance activities.

Sam Bankman-Fried

Joe Bankman’s Alleged Role

Joe Bankman, a prominent Stanford University law professor, is accused of being a central figure in the illicit financial strategies related to political donations. According to undisclosed emails obtained by The Wall Street Journal, Joe Bankman played a significant advisory role in what is described as an illegal straw-donor scheme.

MIT Bitcoin Expo 2022 Sam Bankman

Understanding the Straw-Donor Scheme

A straw-donor scheme involves using someone else’s money to make a political donation under one’s own name, thereby circumventing legal donation limits and transparency requirements. This practice is a clear violation of federal campaign finance laws and undermines the integrity of the electoral process.

Despite the serious nature of these allegations, Joe Bankman has denied any wrongdoing. A spokesperson for Joe stated that he had “no knowledge of any alleged campaign finance violations.” However, the emails suggest otherwise, indicating Joe Bankman’s direct involvement in the financial operations underpinning these donations.

Barbara Fried and Gabriel Bankman-Fried’s Involvement

Barbara Fried, co-founder of the political action committee (PAC) Mind the Gap, is also embroiled in the scandal. Allegedly, she directed funds towards various progressive groups and initiatives, leveraging her influence within the political sphere. Mind the Gap has been a significant player in Democratic political fundraising, and these allegations suggest that FTX customer assets were funneled into political contributions to support these causes.

Meanwhile, Gabriel Bankman-Fried, Sam’s brother, channeled donations towards pandemic prevention efforts. Although aimed at a worthy cause, the source of these funds—allegedly misappropriated from FTX accounts—raises significant ethical and legal questions.

Sam Bankman Fried

The Impact on the 2022 Election

The coordinated effort by the Bankman-Fried family to influence the 2022 election underscores the broad scope of their political activities. By supporting various political entities and causes, the family sought to exert substantial influence over the election outcomes, a move that now faces intense scrutiny.

Expert Insights and Legal Implications

David Mason, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, has weighed in on the matter, highlighting the compelling evidence against Joe Bankman. Mason suggests that Joe’s actions could lead to significant legal liabilities, emphasizing the “strong evidence” of his knowledge and participation in the illegal activities.

This involvement could result in severe consequences under federal campaign finance laws, adding to the already complex legal challenges faced by the Bankman-Fried family. The ongoing investigations are expected to delve deeper into these allegations, potentially leading to more legal actions against the family members.

fortune magazine sam bankman fried

Implications for Former FTX Executives

The scandal extends beyond the Bankman-Fried family, implicating former FTX executives as well. On May 28, Ryan Salame, the former co-CEO of FTX Digital Markets, was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison. Salame pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business and engaging in campaign finance fraud. The severity of his sentence, which surpassed the prosecution’s recommendation of 7 years, underscores the gravity of the crimes involved.

In addition, former executives Caroline Ellison and Nishad Singh have pleaded guilty to related charges and are awaiting sentencing. Their roles in the fraudulent activities within FTX illustrate the widespread nature of the corruption and the concerted efforts to divert customer funds for unauthorized purposes.

SBF’s Current Status

Sam Bankman-Fried, at the center of this financial maelstrom, is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence for his involvement in FTX’s fraudulent activities. His alleged role in the $100 million political donation scheme, coupled with his family’s implicated participation, paints a troubling picture of systemic corruption and financial abuse.

Ongoing Fallout

The legal proceedings surrounding FTX’s collapse are far from over. As more details emerge, the potential consequences for Joe Bankman, Barbara Fried, and Gabriel Bankman-Fried are likely to intensify. This case serves as a stark reminder of the potential for misuse of power and influence in the cryptocurrency world and raises critical questions about the governance and ethical standards of financial institutions.


The unfolding scandal involving the Bankman-Fried family’s alleged $100 million political donation scheme highlights the extensive and ongoing fallout from the collapse of FTX. With each revelation, the legal ramifications for Joe Bankman, Barbara Fried, and Gabriel Bankman-Fried become more pronounced. This case not only sheds light on the complexities of campaign finance laws but also underscores the need for stringent oversight and transparency in the rapidly evolving cryptocurrency industry.

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