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SBF gave a lot of money to politicians — one congressman explains why things won't change

Millions of dollars in political contributions have come under scrutiny after disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) was charged with eight counts of wire fraud, securities fraud, and conspiracy — including conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws.

And according to one congressman, there isn't much that can be been done to prevent a Sam Bankman-Fried-like character from lining the pockets of members of Congress and special interest groups.

"Sadly, the answer to that question is we probably don't [prevent that from happening in the future]," Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) told Yahoo Finance (video above). "We have a political system partly thanks to the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United to equate a giving of money to people like me with First Amendment-protected political speech."

Himes was referring to the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, which overturned long-held campaign finance restrictions and enabled corporations and other entities to spend unlimited funds on elections.

SBF, who founded and led FTX until a liquidity crunch forced the cryptocurrency exchange to declare bankruptcy, is escorted out of the Magistrate Court building after his arrest, in Nassau, Bahamas December 13, 2022. REUTERS/Dante Carrer
SBF, who founded and led FTX until a liquidity crunch forced the cryptocurrency exchange to declare bankruptcy, is escorted out of the Magistrate Court building after his arrest, in Nassau, Bahamas December 13, 2022. REUTERS/Dante Carrer (Dante Carrer / reuters)

SBF donated more than $40 million during the 2022 election cycle, according to disclosures.

A MarketWatch analysis found that SBF gave almost $40 million to Democratic politicians or groups, with roughly $19 million of that given to the Democratic Protect our Future PAC.

About $200,000 was publicly funneled to Republicans, MarketWatch found — though SBF also said he made additional large donations to GOP candidates but hid them from public view.

And as part of the indictment against SBF, federal authorities alleged that he violated campaign finance laws by using misappropriated customer funds and falsely reporting contributions "in the names of other persons."

Himes told Yahoo Finance he didn't "personally" receive money from SBF but that "many" of his colleagues did.

SBF "was a regular presence on Capitol Hill," the congressman said, adding: "had I been a recipient of his direct giving, I would be finding a way to give it back."

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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