WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre would not say whether President Biden would ask his aides to return at least 2020 campaign contributions from Sam Bankman-Fried, a cryptocurrency fraudster who the Justice Department has accused of defrauding investors. 1.8 billion dollars.
Bankman-Fried, 30, was one of the Democratic Party’s biggest donors and even met with Biden’s White House advisers before his FTX currency exchange collapsed in one of the biggest frauds in American business history.
On Tuesday morning, federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York charged Bankman-Fried with eight counts, including conspiracy to commit campaign finance fraud. Manhattan US Attorney Damian Williams alleged that banker-Fried’s illegal donations amounted to “tens of millions of dollars”.
“The president received campaign donations [from Bankman-Fried]. Will the president return this donation? Will he call on all politicians to return these funds? asked Zeke Miller of the Associated Press.
“Look, I’m covered by the Hatch Act here – [I’m] I would have to refer you to the DNC if I was limited in what I could say and anything related to political contributions,” Jean-Pierre said, referring to a federal law that prohibits some officials from advocating for candidates.
“I’m asking the president’s opinion,” Miller said.
“You asked me two questions: you asked if he would return the donations, and then you asked his opinion. I’ll answer the first part, which means I’m covered by the Hatch Act from here on out. I am limited in what I can say. And I can’t just talk about political contributions or anything like that — I can’t talk about that from here,” Jean-Pierre said.
When asked another question about Biden’s general opinion, Jean-Pierre said: “I can’t speak from here, even his thoughts.”
“I can’t even speak about his opinion, even about his contributions, his donations, from here,” he added.
Violations of the Hatch Act typically involve direct endorsements of a candidate or party by federal officials — as opposed to making statements that can apply to candidates of either party. like, for example, calling on politicians to downplay historical contributions.
Bankman-Fried was welcomed this year at least two West Wing encounters one of Biden’s top aides, Steve Ricchetti, according to visitor logs. It is not known who else he met during the visits on April 22 and May 11.
According to the Federal Election Commission, Bankman-Fried gave $50,000 to the Biden Victory Fund in October 2020 and another $2,800 directly to the Biden campaign that month.
Since the collapse of FTX, the White House has fielded questions about what Biden intends to do with his contributions to the Democratic National Committee, but did not respond to The Post’s inquiries.
In the 2020 election, Bankman-Fried spent $10 million to support Biden’s campaign — much of it indirectly.
Bankman-Fried was the second-largest donor to Democrats in Congress before last month’s midterm elections. donate at least $39.2 million — the second after the left-wing billionaire George Soros.
Although some Republicans received donations from Bankman-Fried, the money went disproportionately to Democrats.
Many members of Congress have said they will donate to Bankman-Fried and her brother Gabriel’s philanthropy, including Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. Ruppersberger of Holland. D-Md.), Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.), Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Ill.) and Kevin Hearn (R-Okla.).